Captain Cool needs 'Mr Calm' Cheteshwar Pujara to ease ODI batting tension

As the clamour for responsible shots and measured approach to batting in Indian ODI team rises, Test run machine Cheteshwar Pujara presents a calm option to MS Dhoni in the middle order.

updated: January 22, 2014 02:13 IST
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With just over 12 months to go for the 2015 World Cup, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team are preparing themselves to defend their coveted crown which they won at home nearly three years back. Dhoni himself has voiced his indispensability in the current team and how he is best suited to lead the team in Australia and New Zealand come Valentine's Day next year. True. However, if we glance at Dhoni's mates in current ODI team, who are playing a five-match series in New Zealand, one would wonder if this is the best possible batting combination good enough to counter the fast and bouncy conditions Down Under.

The year 2013 threw up a lot of positives for Indian limited-overs batting: A fresh pair of opening batsmen with loads of success and the 'Bradmanesque' form of their superstar Virat Kohli. The skipper continued his good form of taking the match right down to the wire and chase down targets whenever the top order failed, which was seldom.

If anything, the middle order looked far from settled. That could be the biggest worrying point in this year of build-up and preparation for the 2015 World Cup. Although, one can argue that India's 4, 5 and 6 that did not get a decent enough hit as the top-3 Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Kohli did the bulk of the batting. Correspondingly, the middle order at most times was either left untested or incapable against genuine good bowling - be it facing Mitchell Johnson at home or Dale Steyn and Co. in South Africa. India can ill afford a similar scenario during cricket's biggest extravaganza.

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