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India coach Anil Kumble sought to shoot down talk about the strike rate of top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, saying the “relevance” of the player has been misjudged.
“He is a very important cog in our plans. He has been successful and I know that he will continue to be successful,” Kumble said about Pujara when asked about the talk on the batsman’s strike rate.
“We all know the importance of the first session in a Test. So the relevance of Pujara is there. I am extremely surprised and a bit disappointed that this talk keeps coming up. As long as someone reads the situation and plays according to it, a team cannot expect anything more from him,” Kumble said.
The talk about Pujara’s strike rate came up during India’s tour of the West Indies in July, which was revealed recently by Sandip Patil after he completed his tenure as chairman of selectors.
Terming himself a “bit old-fashioned”, Kumble said the talk about the strike-rate was misplaced as he had always felt that it applied to a bowler.
“I know there has been a lot of talk on strike rate in the last eight years after the advent of Twenty20. As far as I was concerned, when I was playing Test cricket strike rate was spoken about bowlers, not batsmen. That’s how I looked at it,” Kumble said.
“In the team you need different characters and players with skill sets which are suited to challenges in a Test. It is because every session can be different in a Test,” he said.
Kumble welcomed Gautam Gambhir, who has been recalled in place of injured opener K.L. Rahul, back saying the player deserved a place for having done well in domestic cricket.
“Gautam has done really well in domestic cricket. He is a part of the 15. I do not want to give away anything more now as all 15 are available for selection. But it is nice to have him back,” Kumble said.
“It is unfortunate that (K.L.) Rahul got injured in the last Test. I think something’s happening with the openers. For some reason they are getting injured. (Murali) Vijay got injured in the West Indies and now Rahul. It is unfortunate as Rahul was batting brilliantly,” Kumble said.
He also praised Rohit Sharma saying his batting form in the second innings (against New Zealand in the first Test at Kanpur) “augurs well” for the team.
“In the first innings he was disappointed with the way he got out. He was aware of this and in the second innings he played brilliantly. That 100-plus partnership with (Ravindra) Jadeja was crucial in taking the game away from the New Zealanders. It is not just good for the team, but I am sure it would have given a boost to his confidence, too,” Kumble said.
With the monsoon persisting in the region, Kumble said his team was ready to adapt to any condition.
“I did not have a look at the wicket. It is early in the season and there has been a lot of rain in the region. I hope rain does not play spoilsport. It will be a good wicket. We have the squad to meet any challenge and adapt to whatever conditions we get. We are not really worried too much about the pitch. We have all our bases covered,” the India coach said.