Senior batters Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara’s forms have been one of the major causes of concern for Team India. Rahane and Pujara, considered to be the pillars in India’s middle-order in Test cricket, have been short for runs for quite some time. Rahane averages only 24.39 in the 16 Test matches that he has played in the last two years with only one hundred – in Melbourne against Australia – and two fifties to his credit. Pujara, on the other hand, has not scored a hundred in his last 16 Tests and averages a mere 27.65 during that period which is considerably lower than his career average of 45.11. The Indian team management, however, is firmly behind the veteran cricketers.
India’s newly-appointed bowling coaching Paras Mhambrey, like head coach Rahul Dravid, said Rahane and Pujara have the “backing” of the team as they know the “value” the right-handers bring to the side.
“I think both with Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, they have enough experience behind them. They have played enough cricket and we also know as a team that they are one inning away from coming back into form. As a team, everyone is behind them and backing them. We know the value they bring to the team. They have played enough cricket to understand what is expected out of them,” Mhambrey said in a press conference on Wednesday as quoted by news agency ANI.
Both Rahane and Pujara were dismissed cheaply in both the innings of the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur. Debutant Shreyas Iyer, who got the opportunity as regular captain Virat Kohli was resting, was the most impressive Indian batter on display in Kanpur. He became the first Indian male to score a hundred and a fifty on Test debut. Now with Kohli coming back for the second Test in Mumbai, the Indian think has a tough choice to make.
Many experts feel it will be unfair on Iyer if he is dropped after a such a stellar debut but if the Indian support staff’s views are to be believed then Rahane and Pujara are unlikely to dropped for the Mumbai Test.
India will be looking to win the second and final Test, which begins on Friday, to seal the series. The first Test had ended in a thrilling draw.
“Honestly, there are many positives we can take from the first Test. Obviously, we did not win the match, it did not happen but very happy with the effort. It was not an easy wicket, we were unlucky at times. There was not much bounce on the wicket, a couple of edges did not carry, had that happened, it would have been a different result. Overall extremely happy with the effort everyone put on that wicket,” said Mhambrey when asked about the performance of India in Kanpur.
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