Ajinkya Rahane Defends Cheteshwar Pujara Before Christchurch Test
Ahead of the second and final Test of the series against the hosts New Zealand, the Indian Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane spoke about their planning for this upcoming Test match.
The no.1-ranked Test team India is currently under pressure after losing the opening game of this away Test series at Wellington in a poor way. From the very first morning of that Test match, the visitors failed to put the strong fight against the hosts.
The last game of the Test series will be played at Christchurch from 29th February. While some haven’t been impressed with Cheteshwar Pujara’s batting approach in the last game, where the right-handed batsman scored 11 runs each in both the innings after 42 and 81 balls respectively, Rahane is backing his teammate. The Indian Test vice-captain feels that the Kiwi bowlers bowled so well to him as they didn’t deliver any loose deliveries.
Rahane said, “I thought personally New Zealand bowled very well in the first well. Pujara did not get stuck according to me. He was trying to score runs. All their bowlers did not bowl any loose deliveries. It can happen, any batsman can go through this phase. Everyone’s game is completely different. As a team, we have to figure out how we actually play in the middle.”
Talking about the upcoming Christchurch Test, Ajinkya Rahane believes in moving on and not think the Wellington Test. While India are leading the 2019-21 ICC World Test Championship points table with 360 points, they are focusing on adding another 60 points in this tally by winning the upcoming Test.
Rahane added, “Whatever we got in Wellington, we got the same. India A played here. Hanuma told us that this wicket plays much better, there is a good pace and bounce on this wicket. The important thing would be to trust ourselves and not think about the first Test match. Sixty points would be at stake in the World Test Championship.
“Staying in the present really matters. Every Test is crucial as WTC is going on. So if we win even one Test here, we will be far ahead as 60 points are at stake. We are playing here after a long time. It is important to understand what we feel as a unit.”
Ajinkya Rahane talks about the bowling unit
One of the biggest questions for the Indian team selection ahead of the Christchurch Test is the spin-bowling option. While the off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (3/99) bowled well in the Wellington Test, the left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja can provide the strong left-handed batting option which is also important for this visiting side.
Rahane claimed, “We have not made a decision yet. Ashwin bowled well looking at the conditions in Wellington. Jadeja is also a quality-bowler. It is a good sign that we have two quality players. The selection will depend on how the wicket looks tomorrow and what the captain and coach think.”
Among the Indian pacers, the tall and experienced right-arm pacer Ishant Sharma bowled very well in the Wellington Test as he took five wickets (5/68) during New Zealand’s first innings. However, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah failed to provide enough support to Ishant as both of them picked up only one wicket each in that same innings. However, Ajinkya Rahane is confident enough in their present form.
Rahane said, “Ishant bowled very well. Shami and Bumrah have been consistent. It was just this game. We have to adapt to the conditions, I am sure they will adapt. We do not have any doubts about Bumrah and Shami. If we bat first here, we have to play really well in the first session. Having a clear mind and intent will help us.”
The Wellington Test was the first defeat for India in the 2019-21 ICC World Test Championship. Before that defeat, they won all their seven matches of this competition.
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