Australian head coach Justin Langer highly praised the Test specialist Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara for his high patience. Langer also feels that his tremendous concentration level can beat even the great Indian cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
While India recently won their historic first ever Test series on the Australian soil (by the 2-1 margin in four matches), Cheteshwar Pujara played the major role for India. He won the Player of the Series award after finishing the series as the leading run-scorer by scoring 521 runs with the average of 74.42.
Pujara has been praised widely for his impressive patience batting. Even now the Australian head coach has also lauded on Pujara’s high level of concentration.
Langer said, “I have never seen a batsman watch the ball as closely as he (Pujara) does, and that includes Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. His concentration was a challenge. And we have to keep getting better just like him, all our batsmen and bowlers.”
Though the Australian side had some disappointing performances in the recently concluded Test series, especially in the last two Tests of the series at Melbourne and Sydney, Langer is backing the players.
Langer said on this matter, “The guys are working very hard and they are going okay. The first innings in Melbourne and Sydney, honestly, sucked the life out of us because when you are in the field for two days, with only one spin bowler, that takes energy out of the group. We have the best spinner and three outstanding pace bowlers, against the outstanding Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. So it takes some mental and physical energy out.”
The head coach is very hopeful about their positive performances in the upcoming three-match home ODI series against India after some fresh players’ joining in the squad.
Langer added, “There are new players and new staff for these three games, so that brings new energy to the group…”
The Australian pacers have been strongly criticised for their less impact in the recently concluded Test series.
Backing them, Langer said, “…they copped some pretty strong criticism throughout the series. But on two very flat wickets they kept running in hard and having a go and in this instance, they were beaten by some a brilliant Indian side. We were beaten by a better side.”
Langer feels disappointed after losing the Test series but confident on the talent and now he is focusing on the experience and ability.
The head coach said, “It’s the exciting thing, when you lose a series to India, it’s disappointing but it helps you get better and it’s the same where we are at the moment. It is an unbelievable opportunity for us in Tests and ODI cricket to get better and we have to do that. We have the talent, now we have to look at the experience and ability, and aspire to do it.”
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Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon performed brilliantly in the Test series as he was the joint most wicket-taker in the Test series with 21 wickets. Now, he has returned to the white ball cricket and Langer is confident on him.
Langer said, “Lyon’s record in white ball cricket is very good and he is the best spinner in the world. So it would be a waste of opportunity if we don’t play him in white ball cricket particularly with the World Cup coming up. He is also a gun fieldsman. He is nice and fit, and a gun fielder. I cannot wait to see how he goes and he is also excited about it.”
Australia is now focusing for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales which is just four months away to begin. While they will begin the tournament as the defending champion, Langer is now focusing to sort out the top players for the upcoming big tournament.
The head coach said, “No one ever feels locked in. We have a clear plan how we will play our one-day cricket between now and the World Cup. It will be a great opportunity for Lyon and for our batsmen, as we have 10-15 games before the World Cup. So we will pick our (final) side after that. As always we will look to prepare well and win the World Cup.
“In the next few months we will have a group of players together and build towards the World Cup, for which we have a clear idea of who we would like to have but we will have to wait.”