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Is Pujara living up to Dravid's legacy at No 3?

By Rajneesh Gupta
December 22, 2014 16:27 IST
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Image: Cheteshwar Pujara bowled by Stuart Broad during the fifth Test at the Oval in London in August.
Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

No Indian batsmen comes close to Rahul Dravid at No 3 in Tests outside the sub-continent.

'The Wall' scored 4,281 runs, at an average of 52, which is quite similar to his batting average at home.

In contrast, Cheteshwar Pujara's average at No 3 outside the sub-continent is less than half of his average in the sub-continent -- 76 as compared to 32 outside! Rajneesh Gupta presents the facts.

India's golden era in Test cricket was undoubtedly the last decade, when the team comprised some of the greatest names in the game and won matches consistently away from home.

Success overseas was largely built on its batting might; it included greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V V S Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag.

Rightly called 'The Wall', Dravid was one of the most difficult batsmen to dismiss under any conditions; his performances at No 3 were vital in most victories.

Quite often the openers would fail, forcing Dravid to come in as early as the first over, and he rarely disappointed. He not only steadied the innings, but also played long enough to lay the platform for the batsmen to come.

Laxman also occupied the No 3 slot briefly, but even he knew it was nearly impossible to dislodge Dravid, who scored 10,501 Test runs, including 28 centuries, at an average of 53.

Since Dravid's departure, the slot has gone to young Cheteshwar Pujara.

For a true picture of their achievements, please check the statistics below:

The table below lists the performance of Indian batsmen at No 3 since Rahul Dravid came into the team:

  Inns NO Runs Hs Avg 100s 50s 0s
R Dravid 217 20 10,501 270 53.30 28 50 7
C A Pujara 38 2 1,789 206* 49.69 6 4 1
V V S Laxman 37 1 1,611 281 44.75 4 8 2
S C Ganguly 13 1 350 136 29.17 1 1 2
A Kumble 5 0 134 42 26.80 0 0 0
M S Dhoni 2 1 105 68* 105.00 0 1 0
V Kohli 4 1 90 41 30.00 0 0 0
I K Pathan 2 0 60 46 30.00 0 0 0
M Kaif 2 0 51 37 25.50 0 0 0
A Mishra 1 0 50 50 50.00 0 1 0
M Vijay 3 0 43 32 14.33 0 0 0
M Kartik 1 0 43 43 43.00 0 0 0
V Sehwag 1 0 5 5 5.00 0 0 0
I Sharma 1 0 1 1 1.00 0 0 0

Interestingly, Pujara, in his short career so far, averages more than Dravid at No 3 in Tests in the sub-contintent.

The Saurashtra batsman has scored 1,072 runs at an average of 67. Laxman, who played that magical innings of 281 at No 3 against Australia in Kolkata in March 2001, also has a good record at the slot in Tests in the sub-continent.

Indian batsmen at No 3 in the sub-continent since Rahul Dravid's debut:

  Inns NO Runs Hs Avg 100s 50s 0s
R Dravid 126 10 6,220 270 53.62 19 27 5
C A Pujara 16 2 1,072 206* 76.57 5 1 0
V V S Laxman 13 1 814 281 67.83 2 5 0
S C Ganguly 9 1 306 136 38.25 1 1 1
A Kumble 4 0 105 42 26.25 0 0 0
M S Dhoni 2 1 105 68* 105.00 0 1 0
V Kohli 4 1 90 41 30.00 0 0 0
M Kaif 2 0 51 37 25.50 0 0 0
A Mishra 1 0 50 50 50.00 0 1 0
M Vijay 3 0 43 32 14.33 0 0 0
M Kartik 1 0 43 43 43.00 0 0 0
I K Pathan 1 0 14 14 14.00 0 0 0
V Sehwag 1 0 5 5 5.00 0 0 0
I Sharma 1 0 1 1 1.00 0 0 0

Image: Rahul Dravid hits a boundary during the first Test against England at Lord's in July 2011.
Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Where Dravid stands out is his performance away from home; it is the benchmark for any good batsmen in Test cricket.

No Indian batsmen even comes close to Dravid at No 3 in matches outside the sub-continent, which includes tough conditions like Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand among others.

Dravid scored 4,281 runs, at an average of 52, which is quite similar to his batting average at home, giving ample evidence that the former captain was never inconsistent across all conditions.

In contrast, Pujara's average at No 3 outside the sub-continent is less than half of his average in the sub-continent, which is 76 as compared to 32 outside.

Pujara has scored 717 runs in 22 innings, at an average of 32 with just one century, giving serious doubts to questions as to whether he is the perfect candidate for the slot.

While his place in the Test side is not under any doubt, there are question marks creeping over whether he is the right batsman for the No 3 slot, especially overseas.

Indian batsmen at No 3 since Rahul Dravid's debut outside the sub-continent:

  Inns NO Runs Hs Avg 100s 50s 0s
R Dravid 91 10 4,281 233 52.85 9 23 2
V V S Laxman 24 0 797 109 33.21 2 3 2
C A Pujara 22 0 717 153 32.59 1 3 1
I K Pathan 1 0 46 46 46.00 0 0 0
S C Ganguly 4 0 44 23 11.00 0 0 1
A Kumble 1 0 29 29 29.00 0 0 0

Clearly, the tables above shows that Cheteshwar Pujara has not lived up to Rahul Dravid's legacy at No 3 away from home thus far.

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