Harsha Bhogle: Donít bench Cheteshwar Pujara

Harsha Bhogle

Cheteshwar Pujara's selection to India's one-day international team was inevitable, to the extent that you must wonder why it took so long coming. But since picking a team is much easier when you don't have to pick it, we'll let that be! But having picked him in a squad that is far too big anyway, we need to see whether or not he actually gets to play. And that is where I believe the selectors need to send a clearer signal.

As I see it, there is no point in playing Pujara anywhere below number 4. With Kohli and Yuvraj at numbers 3 and 4, that really leaves the opening slot. Now by leaving out Sehwag, the selectors have clearly told Ajinkya Rahane that he is going to get a bit of a run at the top of the order which means Pujara will need to play for Gambhir, if at all.

The other alternative of course is that Yuvraj plays Raina's role at number 6 and Kohli slips to 4 to allow Pujara in at 3 but I think Kohli has earned the right to own his batting position.

Now if indeed there has to be a choice between Pujara and Gambhir, I believe it is appropriate that the selectors make it rather than the captain and coach. In any case teams are decided after consulting the team management so it shouldn't be too difficult for them to choose one or the other. But if Pujara is indeed left out, then it makes no sense to have him with the team given that Saurashtra have has a wonderful season in the Ranji Trophy and they will need him to progress further.

He is playing such dominant innings for them that it would be criminal to have him sit around like we are doing with Rohit Sharma. For Mumbai, he is the star, the matchwinner, and he will be far more positive being wanted there rather than taking caps or water out for someone else.

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