India still don't have better Test batter than Pujara, says Harbhajan after SA loss

Former spinner Harbhajan Singh questions decision to leave Rahane and Pujara behind for South African tour


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Cheteshwar Pujara. - ANI
Cheteshwar Pujara. - ANI

Published: Fri 29 Dec 2023, 9:43 PM

Former spinner Harbhajan Singh questioned India's decision to leave Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara behind for their Test tour against South Africa.

The Proteas crushed India's hopes of winning their first Test series in South Africa as they clinched a remarkable victory in the first Test by an innings and 32 runs within three days.

Pujara and Rahane were the two players who were a part of India's Test team in the early months of 2023 but were sidelined for the two-match Test series.

Pujara made his last Test appearance during India's World Test Championship final loss against Australia. While Rahane made his last Test appearance during India's tour of the West Indies.

Rahane made 94 runs in the two Test appearances, while, Pujara scored 41 runs across both innings in the WTC final.

Harbhajan questioned India's decision to leave both experienced batters out of the squad and said on his YouTube channel, "Didn't select Ajinkya Rahane and have left Cheteshwar Pujara out for no reason. These are the two players who have scored runs everywhere.

"If you look at the previous record Pujara has the same contribution as Kohli had. I don't understand why Pujara has been left out, we still don't have a better batter than Puajra in Test cricket. He plays slowly but he saves you, because of him India won Test in Australia and England."

Pujara was the second-highest run-scorer for India in the 2021-23 WTC cycle where he scored 928 runs at an average of 32.00. Virat Kohli was the only player ahead of him with 932 at 32.13.

His absence further points out India's struggle with the bat. They scored 245 runs in the first innings in which KL Rahul scored a counterattacking knock of 101.

In the second innings, India could only muster 131 runs in 34.1 overs that they faced in the second innings.

"In three days India for a single moment never looked in the game.," said Harbhajan . "They scored 245 runs after losing the toss in the first innings innings and it was all thanks to KL Rahul.

"He played a fantastic knock which propelled India's score to 245. In the second innings, India could only score 131 and if you remove Virat Kohli's contribution then it would have been more difficult," Harbhajan added

In the second innings, Kohli emerged as India's saviour with his exciting kock of 76 in just 82 deliveries.


"It never looked like Virat Kohli would get out at any point he was playing at will. The match was decided on India's performance in the first innings," Harbhajan asaid.

India will look to draw the series as they face South Africa in the second Test on January 3 at the Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town.

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