Former left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra has opined that dropping the out-of-form duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane for the final Test against South Africa would not make much sense. According to Nehra, it would be better to give the two a chance to play the entire Test series and then take a call on them, if needed.
Following another failure for Pujara and Rahane on Day 1 of the Johannesburg Test, Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar claimed that the two have ‘probably just the next innings to save their Test careers’.
Nehra, though, disagreed and pointed out that even Test captain Virat Kohli’s recent numbers are similar to Rahane and Pujara. Taking an empathetic stand towards the under-fire Indian duo, Nehra said on Cricbuzz Chatter:
“Even Virat Kohli has similar numbers but people are not questioning his place in the team. Obviously, he is the captain and what Kohli has done is on a completely different level from the two batters we are talking about. It is not fair to compare, but Rahane and Pujara have also been second to none at their peak, especially the latter.”
The 42-year-old stressed on the fact that nothing much can change in a Test or two. He opined that it is hence better to carry on with the experienced duo till the end of the South Africa series. Nehra elaborated:
“If you have backed a player like Rahane for the 1st Test, it would be better to carry on with him for the rest of the series. Obviously, Rahane was the one who was out (officially due to injury) when Kohli came back for the second Test against New Zealand, though he led the team in the first.”
The former cricketer continued:
“Agreed, both Pujara and Rahane have been in big trouble of late. But changing players in the middle of an important series is a big decision. If you have chosen Rahane ahead of Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari, I feel he should then be played for the entire series. Nothing much can change in one or two Tests. Their batting has been an issue for a while now, so why not give them a couple more games? When you are winning, you can give players an extended run. A decision can be taken after the series.”
While Pujara was dismissed for 3 off 33 on Monday, Rahane was back in the hut after a first-ball duck.
What Gavaskar said about Rahane and Pujara
Speaking on air after Pujara and Rahane’s cheap dismissals, Gavaskar claimed that another failure could bring the curtains down on their Test career. He commented:
“After those two dismissals one can say that they probably have just the next innings, both Pujara and Rahane, to save their Test careers.”
The batting great added about Rahane and Pujara’s woes with the willow:
“There have been questions asked about their place in the team and now with these two dismissals, they have just one innings left. If there is another innings and the way India is going, it looks like there will be another for them to score something and maybe keep their place in the team.”
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Rahane and Pujara were underwhelming in the first Test as well. While Rahane managed 48 and 20 in Centurion, Pujara registered scores of 0 and 16.