Ravi Shastri believes Gill’s error is forgivable, but seeing a 100-Test veteran Pujara not know where his off stump is is really frustrating.
For the second day in a row, India finished second to Australia in the World Test Championship final. Day 2 belonged to the batsmen, whilst Day 1 belonged to India’s bowlers. India’s top-order was shredded once again in a big-match ICC final, with Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujari, and Virat Kohli failing to produce when it mattered most. Despite some middle-order mending by Ravindra, India finds itself staring down the barrel at 151/5, trailing Australia by a mammoth 318 runs with three days to play.
While the Australian bowlers deserve credit for keeping it close, a couple of Indian wickets – Gill and Pujara – were simply the result of poor shot selection. Both hitters faced deliveries that knocked their stumps off. Gill was undone by a ball that darted back in from Scott Boland, and Pujara followed it up with his dismissal, which was a carbon copy of his young India teammate. The choice to abandon the ball, after shouldering arms to a delivery that kept its line, left Pujara and India in tatters.
The wicket was unusual for Pujara, who is famed for knowing where his off-stump is. For someone who has played on three full-time trips to England and has had some success there, the sight of Pujara playing all over that delivery was very depressing, so much so that India’s seasoned No. 3 hitter was chastised harshly by Ravi Shastri.
“That is a poor leave because the front foot has just crossed.” It should be heading towards the ball; he was looking to play it before deciding whether or not to leave it. The off-stump is exposed because of the manner he’s leaving it. The front foot is still on middle stump when it should be off stump. Keep an eye on that front foot. It should be wider and closer to the ball. He mistook it for something outside the off stump. “It was a blunder,” Shastri said on television.
What was even more discouraging was that this was the same surface where Pujara had scored hundreds of runs for Surrey in the County Championship during the previous two years. In fact, Pujara was selected for the postponed fifth Test of the 2021 series against England at Edgbaston last year because of his Surrey expertise. He’d been let down before, and now he’d been let down again at The Oval. Shastri believes Gill’s error is fair given the youngster’s inexperience, but seeing a 100-Test veteran Pujara not know where his off stump is is a tremendous letdown.
“In England, we talk about leaving the ball, and we always talk about knowing where your off stump is.” This is where you don’t know where your off stump is. Shubman Gill is being a tad sloppy with his footwork. He will learn; he is still young, but Pujara will be really disappointed. It should have been closer to the ball and over the line of the ball. “That’s why they keep telling you to know where your off stump is,” the former India coach continued.