'Gill is young but Pujara..' - Shastri lambasts Indian No.3 for fated leave
It didn't take Australians long to reinforce the difference in quality and depth from their Indian counterparts in the pace department and put the opposition under deep strife on Day 2 at The Oval for the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
After posting a gigantic 469 all out, they reduced the Indians to 151/5 in 38 overs before the close of play. With the pitch drying out and offering a bit of uneven bounce from certain patches, the unrelenting Scott Boland and Pat Cummins could hit this crack which had emerged just outside the right-hander's off-stump line, making it difficult for Indian batters to leave on the bounce.
Two of the team's most critical cogs in India's wheels Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara were out to that crack, anticipating the ball to sail over and shouldering arms, but it tailed in late to crash onto their off-stump. It came across as a misjudgement of length from the two players, who perhaps should've covered the lines by going back and across to their respective wicket deliveries.
Analysing the two near-identical dismissals on the leave from the outside, former India head coach Ravi Shastri said he was more disappointed with Pujara's wicket since the experienced pro looked in two minds and couldn't ultimately get his body in line of the delivery from allrounder Cameron Green, which seamed in sharply to hammer the top of off-stump.
Shastri lashes out at Pujara for wicket off the leave
Talking on air for host broadcasters Star Sports, Shastri said Pujara "poorly" left the delivery from Green as his fronfoot went one step across rather than going in the direction of the ball, which would've given him a greater reach and aided his decision-making.
The ex coach said such mistakes can pop up with youngster Gill, still finding his feet at the Test level at a time when conditions are tough and attacks offer no respite. But for a 102-Test veteran Pujara to make an error in judgement as costly was not expected.
"That is leaving it poorly because the front foot has just gone across. It should be going towards the ball; he was looking to play it and then decided whether he should leave it. You see, the way he is leaving it, the off-stump is exposed," Shastri said watching a replay of the dismissal on Friday (June 8).
"The front foot is still middle stump when it's actually going towards off stump. Watch that front foot. It should be further across and towards the ball. He thought it was outside the off stump. It was an error in judgment."
Having played for India in English conditions and also for Glamorgan in the County Championship during his heyday, Shastri said leaving the ball correctly is an invaluable skill in the UK and Pujara is expected to ace it with his experience of multiple Test and county stints of the country.
"We talk about leaving the ball in England and we always talk about knowing where your off stump is. This is not knowing where your off stump is. See, Shubman Gill being a little lazy with his footwork. He will learn; he is still young, but Pujara will be very disappointed seeing that."
"It should have been a little further towards the ball and across the line of the ball. That's why they keep telling you - know where your off stump is," he added.