It was an eventful week for the cricket fraternity in Gujarat. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) found Amit Singh and Siddharth Trivedi guilty in the IPL spot-fixing saga and were consequently banned for five years and one year, respectively. On the other hand, Cheteshwar Pujara was made captain of India A team for the four-day match against West Indies A.
India A team also includes former skippers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir along with Zaheer Khan and Mohammad Kaif, a clear indication of leadership qualities Pujara has and the trust selectors have on him.
This is not the first time Pujara will be leading India A side. Last month, the Rajkot boy had led India A’s successful tour to South Africa. Selectors are hunting for a captain for the post-MS Dhoni era, which does not seem to be too far away.
The selectors have already experimented with Virat Kohli, who showed his leadership abilities against the minnows Zimbabwe last month. But the real test will be the Tests, where a captain needs to fight 450 overs over a period of five days, be alert, keep his cool and also encourage his team till the last over.
Pujara showed his temperament on his Test debut against Australia in 2010. He was out to an unplayable ball. But in the second innings he scored an excellent 72 in a tricky chase. It was the first hint that he is not going to buckle under pressure.
Talking of Virat, he led U-19 India to victory a few years ago, but his flamboyancy, on and off field may worry the selectors. Moreover, Virat and Cheteshwar possess a very different approach towards the game.
If Virat is aggressive, Cheteshwar is the calm one — he may not be a style icon like Mahi, but this down-to-earth lad is here to prove a point, in his own methodical way. Disciplined as he is, thanks to his regular habit of reading the Bhagwat Gita, he knows his duties well.
Suresh Raina was also given a chance to prove himself. But the Uttar Pradesh batsman’s place has been questioned due to inconsistency in batting. That leaves Kohli and Pujara, who are very much like Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid respectively. If Kohli believes in aggression like Dada, Pujara remains calm and does his job slyly very much like Jammy.
Pujara’s ability to maintain his cool even in high pressure areas makes him a favourite. Leading India A with Gambhir and Sehwag, it will be a good experience for the Rajkot lad how to handle star players, more importantly how to keep these star players together.
Pujara has led India A team in the past but most of the time he had players, who were out there with him to prove their respective aptitude. Pujara should make the most of this opportunity and prove his mettle.