Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane will play important knocks for India in the future: Vikram Rathour

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane will play important knocks for India in the future: Vikram Rathour

India batting coach Vikram Rathour backed “senior cricketers” Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to return to form “pretty soon” but refused to say if both senior cricketers will be retained or dropped from the playing XI for the second Test against New Zealand after they failed to fire yet again in the ongoing series opener on Day 4 in Kanpur.

Pujara scored 26 and 22 in both innings of the first Test while stand-in skipper Rahane made 35 and 4 which left cricket pundits and fans wondering whether both will get another chance in the second Test or not.

Both players have been woefully out of form with the bat in Tests over the last two years with Pujara averaging 20.37 and 30.42 while Rahane has managed 38.85 and 19.57 in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

IND vs NZ, Kanpur Test: Day 4 Highlights

But Rathour, who took over as batting coach in this series, threw his weight behind the veteran batters, which is what the entire team management has been doing for quite some time now.

“Of course we want our top order to contribute, but the cricketers you mentioned have played 80 and 90 Test matches so they have the experience. Of course to play that many games they must have done well for us.

“I understand both of them are going through a lean phase but they have played very very important knocks for us in the past, and we are pretty sure they will come back and play more important knocks for our team in the future as well,” Rathour said on Sunday.

Rahane has scored just 1 hundred since October 2019 and his career average fell below 40 after the twin failures in Kanpur. He could be facing the axe in Mumbai when captain Virat Kohli returns to lead the team in the second Test starting December 3.

Pujara meanwhile, hasn’t hit a century since January 2019 but might hold on to his spot in the playing XI as he has faired a little bit better than the vice-captain in 2021.

Rathour said India will take a call on the selection only when they reach Mumbai next week and also refused to comment on how long Rahane and Pujara have before one or both of them are dropped from the Test team.

“I don’t think we can put a number to that. That really depends on the situation the team is in, and what the team requires.

“The captain coming back in will happen in Mumbai, I understand. We will get to that point when we reach Mumbai. At this point we are focused on this game. There is still a day to go, and a game to be won. So we are really focused on this game,” Rathour said.

India recovered from the top-order’s failure in the second innings to post 234 for 7 before declaring in the final session on Day 4 against New Zealand.

Shreyas Iyer (65) and Wriddhiman Saha (61 not out) hit gritty half-centuries while Ravichandran Ashwin contributed with 32 runs as the hosts set New Zealand 284 to win the series opener. The visitors were 4 for 1 before bad light stopped play at the Green Park Stadium.

Also Read | IND vs NZ: Rahane will get another chance in Mumbai Test, says Laxman Also Read | Kanpur Test: Iyer, Saha hit fifties, Ashwin strikes as India eye win on final day

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