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Pant is capable, needs to put the team in commanding positions: Pujara

Pant India England
Source: BCCI on Twitter

Cheteshwar Pujara has called on teammate Rishabh Pant, who hit 91 on the third day of the first Test, to be more selective and sensible with his shots.

“I am happy with the way overall he (Pant) is playing. He still has to learn a few more things. He still has to put the team into a commanding position because he is capable of that and he is missing out on hundreds. So I am sure that he will learn from this — I speak to him at times at the crease what are the shots he can play and what are the shots he can avoid. He just has to do it,” said Pujara after the day’s play.

The left-handed Pant shared a 119-run partnership with Pujara, who scored 73, for the fifth wicket as the duo looked to bring India back on track from 73/4. After Pujara’s unfortunate dismissal — he was caught off a rebound from the short-leg fielder, it was left to Pant to guide India to a good total.

However, just nine short of his century, Pant went for a big shot through the off-side only to be caught at deep extra-cover. India were reduced to 225 for six, still over 350 runs behind England.

“There is a clear communication with him that there are some shots which he needs to avoid. There are some shots which he can continue playing if they are in his range. Then there are times when he has to understand, and even the coaching staff always communicates with him, that he has to put the team first and be a little sensible at times. He has done that most of the times. There are times he gets out and he looks ugly, but he will learn,” said Pujara who made 73.

“He (Pant) is capable of putting the team first and at the same time put up a decent total. Because you know whenever he bats, if he bats longer, we always end up putting a big total. I am sure he will realise that.”

Pujara has put up a few good stands with Pant in recent times. In Australia too, they did well together on fifth-day wickets in the third and fourth Tests at Sydney and Brisbane. Pujara said that Pant’s naturally aggressive game helps take the pressure off him.

“That is his natural game, can’t restrict it much because if he gets too much defensive he can get out. Rather it is good that he plays his shots. But at times he has to be very selective about what shots to play. And in what situations he can take the risk or stay at the crease. The more he plays, the more he will learn. It is not that quick runs are always needed. At times, you have to stay at the crease,” Pujara elaborated and said that even if Pant doesn’t take the risk he has the ability to keep the scoreboard moving.

“When he is there at the crease, the scoreboard keeps moving. It is not like when he stays there he will become very defensive. Balancing things out is the most important thing for him. It becomes easy for me when he starts playing shots as the bowlers come under pressure. From the other end, when I get strike, I keep playing my game. Pressure gets to the opposition and we are able to build good partnerships,” said Pujara.

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