India’s disappointing collapse in the first innings of the second test against South Africa has raised questions about the future of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in team India. The continuing poor form of Pujara and Rahane has prompted calls for their dismissal from the squad.
India’s disappointing collapse in the first innings of the second test against South Africa has raised questions about the future of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in team India.
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On a day when India missed Virat Kohli (who is suffering from upper back spasms), stand-in skipper KL Rahul's patient 50-run knock and Ravichandran Ashwin's cavalier 46 at the back end ensured India reached 202 in their first innings on a bouncy wicket. The continuing poor form of Pujara and Rahane has prompted calls for their dismissal from the squad.
Many questioned the lack of intent on the part of Pujara while others argued that Rahane seemed completely short of confidence. Legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar expressed his anguish and said, "I think the next innings will be their last chance," he said.
The duo's performance will also make it hard for the new coach Rahul Dravid, who would have been disappointed by the senior batters' approach on a day they should have taken more responsibility in Kohli's absence.
Pujara hopped and skipped to rising deliveries in a typical South African pitch which dampened not only his confidence but also those in the dressing room. Olivier's natural back-of-length deliveries were the perfect recipe for disaster as he fended one that was wide of the short-leg fielder but the next one lobbed up to the man at the point for an easy catch.
Rahane's dismissal was that of a player whose confidence has been torn to pieces. The ball pitched on the fourth stump channel, created indecision on whether to play or not and Rahane dangled his bat for the catch to be taken in the slips.
Both players, the backbone of the Indian middle-order in Test cricket, have been out of touch for a while now. And with neither age nor form in their favour, a comeback would be unlikely if they are sent packing.
The question now will be whether Rahul Dravid-led think tank be willing to take the tough call and give chance to youngsters with a view towards the future or will they give the duo another chance given the overall lack of form of the Indian batting line up in red-ball cricket.
-with agency inputs
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