After India’s heartbreaking loss in the World Test Championship (WTC) Final against New Zealand, the Men in Blue were heavily criticized, especially for their batting display. Cheteshwar Pujara is one of the players whose long term future in the Test team is in doubt. Pujara has scored 841 runs at an average of 28 in 18 games for the team in the previous two years.
Moreover, he has a strike rate of around 35, which is something that seems not to elude the spotlight. The heir apparent to Rahul Dravid’s legacy appears to be on the verge of losing his position. The ongoing five-match Test series against England might be the final chance for the 33-year-old to prove his mettle.
On that note, let’s take a look at the five players who could replace Cheteshwar Pujara in the Indian Test squad.
1) Abhimanyu Easwaran
The prodigy from Dehradun, Abhimanyu Easwaran, is gaining popularity in the domestic arena. In the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy, he had his breakout season, scoring 861 runs in six games for Bengal. He has played 58 first-class matches scoring 4227 runs at an average of 46.96 and has a wonderful ability to play huge innings and tormenting the opponents.
Easwaran is on reserves for the ongoing Test series against England and has a decent chance of making the team.
2) Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari is more than adequate for filling Pujara’s shoes, whether it’s defending the encampment at one end or fighting out the new ball. He has 632 runs at an average of 32.84 in 12 appearances for India.
Vihari has a century under his belt, and his poise, skill, and mental toughness make him an ideal Test player. He has proved that he can bat at any position and will be one of the top contenders to take Pujara’s spot. His match-saving innings at the SCG, which helped India rescue the third Test match, showed his grit and determination.
3) Sheldon Jackson
Sheldon Jackson is widely regarded as one of the best first-class batsmen in the domestic arena. Jackson has amassed over 800 runs for Saurashtra in each of the previous two Ranji seasons.
He was Saurashtra’s key player in assisting the team to a second-place finish in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season, followed by the squad winning the treasured trophy in the following year. Jackson has accumulated 5634 runs at an average of 49.42 in 76 first-class matches, including 19 centuries and 25 half-centuries. With a position in the Indian lineup up for grabs, Jackson will be aiming to seize the opportunity and establish himself at the professional stage.
4) Washington Sundar
Washington Sundar could perhaps be the X-factor that solves India’s batting dilemma. Sundar is used to playing upper in the order in domestic cricket and might embrace the chance to fill Pujara’s shoes.
The youngster has shown good batting discipline in the little opportunities he has had and can prove to be a perfect alternative for Pujara. Also, He can provide some overs which will be crucial for the team.
5) Mandeep Singh
Mandeep Singh has been in the domestic circuit for a long time and is the backbone of Punjab. He has established himself as a stalwart of the Punjab batting line-up. Mandeep scored ten centuries, including a double-ton, and an average of above 40 in the 2015-16 first-class season.
Mandeep’s first-class stats have been spectacular, but he has struggled to maintain consistency. However, he has the talent to take up Pujara’s role and prove his mettle in the Indian batting lineup.