Cape Town - India coach Anil Kumble has given his full support to batsman Cheteshwar Pujara in the wake of claims by former chief selector Sandeep Patil that management had spoken to him about his slow strike rate.
Kumble is unconcerned about how quickly Pujara scores in Test cricket and will have been happy with his strong showing against New Zealand in the first Test in Kanpur.
In response to a journalist asking about Pujara's strike rate, Kumble said: "Even I'm a bit old-fashioned.
"I know there is a lot of strike rate in the last eight years after the advent of T20. As far as I was playing, in Test cricket strike rates were mostly talked about for bowlers and not for batsmen. That's how I like to look at it. In a team you need different characters, different quality players.
"Players whose skill sets are suited to different challenges that happen in a Test match. Because we've seen that that's what happens in a Test match. That's the beauty about Test cricket. From my point of view, as far as I am concerned, strike rates are relevant only for bowlers in Test matches."
Kumble has highlighted that while Pujara hasn't scored a mountain of runs, he has done a job for the team in some tough situations.
Kumble explained: "I think you need to bat based on situations.
"Yes, Virat is right that someone like Pujara in the West Indies, probably on one occasion…and he only played two innings. And both those innings were relevant.
"Even in the first Test match, Vijay got out cheaply and then he and Shikhar [Dhawan] had a good partnership till lunch.
"That was crucial for the team, because we went into lunch losing only one wicket. And we all know the importance of the first session of a match that is the first Test of a series.
"So the relevance of Pujara is extreme there. But I'm really surprised and a bit disappointed that this talk keeps coming up. As long as someone reads the situation and plays according to the situation, that's what is expected of the team.
"And he is a very important cog in our team and in our plans. And he's been successful and I know that he will continue to be successful."
Kumble doesn't feel Pujara will be under pressure after the inclusion of Gautam Gambhir in the squad for the second Test.
Kumble added: "I don't think Pujara has ever breathed easily, from all you guys' perspective and some people who are constantly watching him. At least from the team management and the team's perspective, there is absolutely no pressure on Pujara.
"And we've seen over the years his contribution. Even in the last Test match, we saw the importance of his contribution to the team's cause.
"So I don't see pressure on anyone in this team. The beauty about this squad is that there's hardly any pressure on anyone, yes there is roles and responsibilities but there's no pressure put on any player."
Pujara's brace of half centuries against New Zealand will boost his chances of retaining his place in the team for the second Test in Kolkata.