Sitanshu Kotak: 'Pujara can play quicker if he wants'

Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak feels Pujara doesn't need to fine-tune his skills or change his approach.

Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped from the first Test against England.   -  PTI

India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara — who went to England early to acclimatise to the seaming conditions — has been left out of the first Test in Edgbaston, and the decision to bench him turned many heads.

The right-hander from Saurashtra, popular for playing the role of an anchor, had a quiet county season. A string of low scores for Yorkshire — 172 runs in 12 innings — perhaps forced the management to choose K.L. Rahul as the new No. 3.

Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak — who has seen Pujara from scratch — believes the axe could be a one-off decision.

“The team management may have taken this decision keeping his form in mind. I don’t think he needs to fine-tune his game; missing this Test match doesn’t make him a bad player,” he told Sportstar on Wednesday.

“He is a strong character and if he gets an opportunity, he will perform,” he added.

Slow batting

In the past, Pujara has been criticised for slow batting as well. The 525-ball 202 (against Australia) led to funny memes on social media.

The Internet erupted when he scored his first run, off 53 balls, against South Africa at Wanderers in January.

Kotak believes he can shed that tag in a jiffy.

“I don’t think he needs to change his approach at all. If the team requires him to score runs quickly, he is more than capable of doing that. He can play quicker. But if it comes to dealing with situations where he needs to stay, he will,” he said.

Being a prolific run-getter for Saurashtra in his playing days, Kotak also cleared the misconception people may have about Pujara’s defensive approach.

“At times, when the ball is moving, he may think to play out the first 15 overs to set the stage for the batsmen to follow. When the ball is old, it can be easier for other players,” he explained.

While Pujara waits for his turn, all eyes will be on Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul. If they perform, Pujara’s wait could get longer.