Virat Kohli and the Indian team management dropped a bomb on cricket fans after deciding to drop Test-match specialist Cheteshwar Pujara for the first Test against England at Birmingham. Pujara, who has an average of over 50 in Test match cricket, saw his place at No.3 take by KL Rahul.
It came as a major surprise, given the player has been regular in the format for India since the past 3-4 years. Though, if one takes a look at his record away from home, there will be a clear answer to why Kohli decided to not play him.
There is no doubting Pujara is a great Test match player, and one of the most reliable in toughest of the situations. Though, his form in overseas condition is mediocre, to say the least. The 30-year-old has an average of 50.34 after 58 matches. But take away the home matches, and he averages a shoddy 35.25 from 24 Tests.
Further, Pujara's numbers in Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa have been absolutely pathetic. He has played a total of 17 Test matches in these four countries, scoring a mere 894 runs at an average of just over 27. In England, where the ongoing series is taking place, he averages 22.20.
While the quality is undeniable, the numbers clearly hint his struggles in the overseas condition. Despite this, the Indian fans on social media were not pleased with his omission. In fact, many of them were unhappy with the fact that Shikhar Dhawan was playing ahead of Pujara.
India decided to go in with Murali Vijay and Dhawan as openers, followed by KL Rahul, who would bat at No. 3. After the top three, there will be Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Dinesh Karthik. The all-rounder spot was given to Hardik Pandya. In the bowling department, Ravichandran Ashwin was chosen as the only spinner ahead of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. And the final three spots went to fast bowlers Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.