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Struggling Cheteshwar Pujara gets BCCI nod to play county cricket

Cheteshwar Pujara, who was among the top-order batsmen who failed to click in the five-Test series against England that India lost 1-3, has sought permission to play in the remainder of the English county season and will be allowed to do so by the Board.

"Pujara is not part of the ODI or T20 team now and is free to play. He sought my permission to play in county cricket and I have asked him to send me the details. I have decided to allow him to play," BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel told PTI from Vadodara.

"We have never said no to any player to play in county cricket if it does not clash with our domestic cricket like Ranji Trophy etc. If you remember we had allowed Gautam Gambhir to play in the English country cricket (in 2013 for Essex)," Patel said.

Pujara, considered a Test specialist, and Virat Kohli were expected to be the bulwarks of the young Indian batting line-up, but failed to live up to their reputations in England, where conditions were conducive to swing bowling.

As a result, the team suffered three massive defeats - two of them by an innings - and squandered the series after taking a 1-0 lead at Lord's, which hosted the second Test.

Pujara (26) tallied 222 runs in 10 innings with 55 as his highest score for a poor average of 22.20 in the series in which India were beaten inside three days in the last two Tests - losing both by an innings - to end the rubber on a dismal note.

Meanwhile, the Board has cracked the whip in the aftermath of the disastrous series by making changes in the support staff for the team for the five-match ODI series against England commencing next week.

Asked about these changes, Patel said "something had to be done. It's not as if our boys are poor players." "We were discussing things over the last two weeks and on Monday I had a discussion with the (BCCI) President, Treasurer and Joint Secretary before deciding on the best course of action -- to appoint Ravi Shastri as the team's director," said Patel

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