The Indian pair of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane has been backed to the hilt despite lowly scores. Both the experienced players have been plagued with inconsistency and their gustless show in South Africa continued in the third and final Test at the Newlands, Cape Town.
Rahane (1) and Pujara (9) fell in quick succession during India’s second innings on Day 3 of the series decider, exposing the visiting camp’s middle-order flaws yet again. Pujara was caught in slips by Keegan Petersen off Marco Jansen. Rahane also made his way back soon, with Kagiso Rabada getting the better of him.
Pujara scored 124 runs from three Tests with including a half-century in the second innings of the 2nd Test, while Rahane returned a tally of 126, also with one fifty to his name. But with Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer waiting in the wings, how long will the team management rally behind the experienced duo?
Former India opener Gautam feels Pujara and Rahane have had enough opportunities so far and they shouldn’t feel surprised if they are out of the team composition for the next Test rubber against Sri Lanka.
“Pujara and Rahane have received enough support, there are no two ways about it. The team management has backed the pair to the core. But you also need to see that Vihari is 28 years old,” said Gambhir on Star Sports.
“You’ve to back him now before he fades away. Same with Shreyas Iyer, who has already shown his potential with a century in Kanpur. Shubman Gill is also a bright prospect. Both Rahane and Pujara know that they have been given enough chances and they wouldn’t be surprised if they get dropped from the next series,” he further added.
Earlier, Pujara and Rahane hit attacking half-centuries in the second Test, resulting in skipper Virat Kohli weighing in on the “priceless” experience which they bring in the side. Kohli had also said the transition in the Test mix will happen in a seamless manner, hinting that the long rope had not reached its end.
“I can’t pinpoint when we’ll have a transition in the team. The way Pujara and Rahane batted in the last Test – that experience is priceless for us… I feel transitions do happen but they happen naturally, you can’t force them,” Kohli had said.