IPL 2021: I do not see Cheteshwar Pujara in CSK XI at the start of the tournament, says Pragyan Ojha

1 month ago 14

Former India off-spinner Pragyan Ojha is delighted to see Cheteshwar Pujara back in the Indian Premier League this year but he also feels that the Saurashtra batsman won't be able to fit into the Chennai Super Kings' playing XI, at least in the beginning of the tournament.

Pujara was bought at his base price of Rs 50 lakh by the CSK management, who were the only bidders for India's Test stalwart. He last played in the IPL in 2014 for Punjab Kings but found no takers before February 18 this year.

Despite the perception of being a Test specialist, Pujara averages close to 30 in T20s and strikes at 109.9. Only in 2019, Pujara scored his maiden T20 hundred for Saurashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy against Railways in Indore.

But Ojha is of the opinion that the 33-year-old may only find a place in CSK's playing XI if someone from the first team gets injured during the tournament.

"I don't see Pujara in the CSK first-XI, he will be part of the dressing room but I don't see him in the first XI. Maybe he can be a replacement for somebody later on in the tournament but he won't start," Ojha told Sports Today.

But Pujara's IPL comeback nonetheless, is something which every Indian cricket fan wanted to see. That is perhaps why there was a huge round of applause in the auction room when CSK decided to rope in the right-handed batsman's services for this season.

INSPIRATIONAL COMEBACK

Pujara started out his IPL career with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2010 before moving to Royal Challengers Bangalore a year later. He stayed there for 3 seasons before Punjab Kings bought him in 2014, which was the last time he featured in the tournament.

This year he has finally got the chance to prove his white-ball credentials once again after successfully establishing his name in Test cricket over the last decade.

"Pujara is a brilliant batsman, any format you talk about he has the skill and the temperament to play. He can perform, he's got the ability.

"But when we talk about T20 cricket, it is far away from Tests. You have to be very fit, the challenges are different on the field. That will be a challenge for Pujara. But other than that, I'am very happy for him.

"He's got his chance after 7 years so this itself is an inspirational tale for all the youngsters that you never lose hope, things will change around," Ojha said.

3-time champions Chennai Super Kings will open their IPL 2021 campaign against Delhi Capitals at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on April 10.