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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Struggling Pujara gets BCCI nod to play county cricket

Struggling Pujara gets BCCI nod to play county cricket

Last updated on: August 19, 2014 20:27 IST

Cheteshwar PujaraCheteshwar Pujara, who was among the top-order batsmen who failed to click in the five-Test series against England that India lost 1-3, has been granted permission to play in the remainder of the English county season.

"Pujara is not part of the ODI or T20 team now and is free to play. He sought my permission to play in county cricket and I have asked him to send me the details. I have decided to allow him to play," BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said from Vadodara.

"We have never said no to any player to play in county cricket if it does not clash with our domestic cricket, like Ranji Trophy etc. If you remember, we had allowed Gautam Gambhir to play in the English country cricket (in 2013 for Essex)," he added.

Pujara, considered a Test specialist, and Virat Kohli were expected to be the bulwarks of the young Indian batting line-up, but failed to live up to reputation in England, where conditions were conducive to swing bowling.

As a result, the team suffered three massive defeats - two of them by an innings – squandering the 1-0 lead taken at Lord's, which hosted the second Test.

Pujara (26) tallied 222 runs in 10 innings, with 55 as his highest score, for a poor average of 22.20 in the series in which India were beaten inside three days in the last two Tests - losing both by an innings.

Asked about changes in the team’s support staff for the five-match ODI series against England, commencing next week, Patel said, "Something had to be done. It's not as if our boys are poor players.

"We were discussing things over the last two weeks and yesterday I had a discussion with the (BCCI) president, treasurer and joint-secretary before deciding on the best course of action -- to appoint Ravi Shastri as the team's director," said Patel.

"We were all very concerned. The team's performance was disturbing. I first spoke to Shastri, then to the captain (Mahendra Singh Dhoni), the coach (Duncan Fletcher) and the two others (bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penney) and informed them about our decision," Patel added.

The Board, earlier on Tuesday, put Shastri in charge of the team's affairs during the one-day series while retaining Fletcher as chief coach, and also asked the two assistant coaches to take a break for the five ODIs, the first of which is on August 25 at Bristol, after a warm-up game on August 22, at Lord's.

"As director, it's up to Shastri what to do and what not to do," Patel maintained.

“In culmination of the discussions among all the office-bearers of the BCCI over the last couple of weeks, the BCCI has decided to avail the services of former India captain, Mr Ravi Shastri, to oversee and guide the Indian cricket team for the forthcoming one-day international matches against England," a statement from the BCCI said.

“Mr Duncan Fletcher will continue as Head Coach while Ravi Shastri will be the overall in-charge of Cricket affairs of the Indian Team."

The support staff will have a more Indian look, with Kings XI Punjab chief coach Sanjay Bangar, India U-19 coach Bharath Arun and colts fielding coach R Sridhar being roped in place of Dawes and Penney.

Asked about Shastri's tenure as Team India director, Patel said it will be "till the end of the series (which will go on till first week of September)."

"We will then have the reports of the captain, coach, manager and Shastri to discuss and then BCCI will decide on the future," he added.

Don't miss our coverage of India's tour to England

Image: Cheteshwar Pujara

Photograph: Philip Brown/Reuters