With Shreyas Iyer in top form, India set a strong 284-run target for New Zealand on Day 4 of the ongoing first Test match in Kanpur on Saturday. Despite the strong target, the home side’s senior batters once again failed to impress, with Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara adding only 22 and four runs to the scoreboard, respectively. Speaking on Star Sports, former New Zealand cricketer Simon Doull criticized Rahane’s performance and stated that the standby captain should be “worried about” his form.
Rahane was trapped LBW in the 15th over of India’s second innings by Ajaz Patel. The spinner tossed up an angled delivery which Rahane tried to defend. The batter mistimed his block and the ball hit his pad right in front of the stumps.
The 33-year-old had a quick word with Mayank Agarwal, who was at the non-striker’s end, and decided to not review it.
“He’s a better player than that. His dismissals against spin since 2019, you look at those, outside the line of off-stump, a lot of full deliveries. So, he’s getting lbw with the one that’s skidding on, he’s nicked off, or he’s chipping one to cover, mid-off and those areas,” said Doull.
“So, those are the dismissals against spin he would be worried about”, he continued.
The former cricketer also compared the Indian squad for the first Test match to legendary players like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid and felt that they were nowhere near their quality.
“Normally you’d think Indian players, Indian conditions, better players of spin. I don’t think by any stretch the current crop of Indian players are anywhere near the quality of players of spin of years gone by. The Laxmans, the Dravids, the Sachins, and Gautam Gambhir. Players like that who were just brilliant players of spin. I don’t think the current crop are as good”, he stated.
Doull also felt that Indian batters find it hard to face spin due to the absence of the country’s top spin bowlers in domestic cricket.
He stated, “Now, is that because the current crop of spinners don’t play domestic cricket – the top quality ones, the Jadejas, the Ashwins, the Axar Patels – so the batters are not facing top quality spin? Or are the batsmen not playing enough domestic cricket to face top quality spin?”
Initially, India posted a first innings score of 345, courtesy of a fine century from Iyer. In reply, New Zealand reached 296 in their first innings with Axar Patel bagging a five-wicket haul.
In their second innings, India declared after reaching 234 for seven with Iyer once again smashing a half-century.
The visitors reached four for one before end of play on Day 4. New Zealand will need to score 280 runs on Day 5 to win the Test match.
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