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Who Can Take Over Pujara's No 3 Slot?

July 04, 2023 08:09 IST
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The winds of change are sweeping the Indian Test team.

Following the World Test Championship final debacle against Australia last month, India have gone in for some fresh faces for the two Test series against the West Indies, starting on July 12, as they look to make a renewed start to the new season.

The long-serving Cheteshwar Pujara was shown the door and several youngsters are in line to replace him at the crucial No 3 slot.

Young prodigy Yashasvi Jaiswal is considered the frontrunner to make his Test debut in the West Indies, but there are other options in Ruturaj Gaikwad and Shubman Gill.

A look at who could take over Pujara's No 3 slot.


Yashasvi Jaiswal

It could turn out to be an incredible journey for Yashasvi if he makes his debut in the West Indies.

The lad once worked at a pani puri stall and stayed in the tents at Azad Maiden in south Mumbai to pursue his cricketing dreams.

After sensational performances with the bat in domestic cricket and IPL 2023, Jaiswal, 21, is all set to make his international debut.

He is the most likely replacement for Pujara at No 3 even though there is a huge contrast in their batting approaches.

While Pujara enjoyed grinding out the opposition bowlers for hours, left-hander Jaiswal loves taking on the bowlers and scoring quickly.

He got into contention for the Test team after scoring 213 and 144 while batting at No 3 for Rest for India against Madhya Pradesh in the Irani Cup match in March.

Such was his domination that he scored a record 357 runs off just 416 balls, at a strike rate of 85 in the five-day encounter.

In the Ranji Trophy last season, he smashed his way to 315 runs from five matches, at a strike rate of 77 while opening the innings.

Jaiswal averages an incredible 80 from 15 first class matches for a tally of 1,845 runs, including nine centuries and two fifties.

It is his good track record both as opener and at No 3 which makes him the ideal candidate to take over Pujara's slot for the West Indies Tests.

With the West Indies not the force they used to be, especially with the ball, this could be the perfect opportunity to blood someone like Jaiswal.

Ruturaj Gaikwad

This is CSK's star batter Ruturaj's big opportunity to prove his worth at the highest level.

In the last few years, he has been on the fringe of the Indian team in white ball cricket, and now picked for the West Indies Tests as India look to phase out the senior lot.

The right-hander boasts of a good record in first class cricket for Maharashtra.

Last season in the Ranji Trophy, the 26 year old scored 364 runs from four matches, averaging 52, with a century and two fifties.

He bats as an opener for Maharashtra in domestic cricket and also for CSK, but he definitely has the technique and the experience if required to occupy the all-important No 3 slot for Team India.

Shubman Gill

Shubman has proved to be unstoppable in the last 6-8 months with the bat across formats, but his failure in the WTC final stands out.

He fell to a poor piece of misjudgement in the first innings, offering no shot to the incoming delivery from pacer Scott Boland and was bowled for 15.

In the second innings, he fell to a controversial catch in the gully by Cameron Green, pushing away from the body to the same bowler.

For all his jaw-dropping performances with the bat in white ball cricket, Gill is yet to make a mark in Test cricket. He has a below-par average 32 for a total of 921 runs in 16 Tests since making his debut in December 2020.

His potential is certainly not in doubt, but his technique looks slightly suspect when facing the new ball, especially in seamer-friendly conditions away from home.

With India looking towards the future, leaving out a young batter of the pedigree of Gill is certainly not in question, but pushing him down to No 3 to maximise his potential, while playing either Jaiswal or Gaikwad in their more natural position as opener.

Gill, as he has shown in the IPL and in limited overs cricket, is a very good player of spin and could easily adjust even if shifted to one-down position.

Photographs: BCCI

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