File photo of India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara during a Test match. (AFP)
If he is currently India's most technically equipped batsman, then what stops the BCCI from bringing Cheteshwar Pujara into India's ODI set-up?
The ODI squad in South Africa is at sea against pace, bounce and movement. World's most prolific batsmen of 2013 are struggling to get bat to ball. A team that chased scores of 350s is being nipped out for 150-odd. And the batsman most capable to counter that will only be used for Tests - why?
Pujara is arguably India's hottest Test property after the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. And the Indian board has repeatedly given pointers that they want to protect the Saurashtra man from the rigors of limited-overs cricket. But how prudent a move is that on tours outside the subcontinent, where Pujara can provide Indian batting the stability which MS Dhoni is struggling to find in South Africa?
Dravid's watertight defence and copybook style wasn't a hindrance for him in ODIs; in fact, he has more than 10,000 runs in the format. And in his short but prolific Test career, Pujara has shown the promise of becoming a good ODI player as well, if not in T20s.
Another example of that is South African Hashim Amla, who is one of the few modern-day batsman in the bat-and-pad-together mould. But that hasn't stopped him from breaking Viv Richards' record of fastest to 4000 ODI runs. In 84 ODIs, Amla has amassed 4041 runs with 12 hundreds and 23 fifties at an average of 53.88 and strike rate of over 90.
Dravid went onto play 344 ODIs, finishing as one of India's most successful ODI player with 10,889 runs. And if the BCCI considers Pujara a like-for-like replacement for Dravid, then why has he played just two ODIs so far and sitting out of a team that so badly needs him at No. 3 overseas.
Pujara is keen to establish himself as an ODI player as well. "I think I have the basics, now it's just about shifting the gears at the right time, and that comes with more matches at the international level," he had said after being picked for the limited-overs tour of Zimbabwe earlier this year.
Pujara has a List A average of 54.57 with 9 hundreds in 68 games. So the credentials are there to press claim for a regular place in the ODI squad as well.
And if the selectors are looking for cues, the news is that India not just failed to reach 250 in the first two ODIs in South Africa but also lasted just 41 and 35.1 overs respectively.