Vikram-Rathour-photo
Vikram-Rathour-photo

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Vikram Rathour has come out in support of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane following their lean patch in the longest format of the game. While Ajinkya Rahane did score 48 and 20 in the first Test against South Africa, Cheteshwar Pujara departed for a duck before scoring 16 in the second innings.

India’s experienced middle-order trio of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane hasn’t scored big runs for a couple of years now and ended 2021 with a top score of 48 across their six knocks in the Centurion Test.

Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara (File)
Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara (File)

Vikram Rathour Backs Under Fire Cheteshwar Pujara And Ajinkya Rahane

Cheteshwar Pujara failed to contribute for the Indian side in both innings of the 1st Test match against the South African side. While the right-handed batting veteran was dismissed for a first-ball duck in the first innings, Cheteshwar Pujara scored a 64-ball 16 in the second essay.

Ajinkya Rahane scored a fluent 48 in the first innings and followed that up with a quick 23-ball 20 in the second essay. Going into the final day, South Africa still requires 211 runs to win with 6 wickets in hand.

Ajinkya Rahane’s place in the side was questioned after he was sacked as vice-captain in the lead-up to the 3-Test series in South Africa. However, he was picked in the XI for the first Test as India went in with experience despite the presence of Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari in the squad.

“As far as Pujara and Rahane are concerned, they are trying their best, they are giving their best. Rahane was in really good touch but unfortunately, he got out, so has Pujara,” said Vikram Rathour in the press conference after the end of Day Four’s play.

Batting coach Vikram Rathour- PTI
Batting coach Vikram Rathour- PTI

“Pujara in past has played some important innings for us, you see these are challenging conditions, not many people have scored runs here.  We need to be patient as long as they are trying their best, giving their best as coaching unit we are fine. Are we getting impatient? Not at this stage, I think,” he added.

Ajinkya Rahane has managed just 479 runs in 2021 at a paltry average of 20.87 while Cheteshwar Pujara has scored 702 runs at an average of 28.08. India needs six wickets to win the first Test against South Africa as the match enters the final day at SuperSport Park, Centurion.

Vikram Rathour: Indian Bowlers Need To Bowl In The Right Areas

After India was folded in the second session on Wednesday, 40.5 overs were bowled with South Africa losing four wickets in the tricky phase. Team India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour wants bowlers to hit the same length on Thursday to seal the win for the visitors.

“This Test cricket, nothing is easy I feel, we still need to bowl well, we still need to bowl in the right areas. The way we bowled today, if we keep hitting those lengths consistently we will create lots of opportunities,” said Vikram Rathour.

Virat Kohli celebrates his last century so far against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) 
Virat Kohli celebrates his last century so far against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP)

At stumps, the Proteas went into the dugout at 94/4 with 211 runs more required to win and six wickets in the bag. For hosts captain, Dean Elgar is currently unbeaten on the crease on 52 as the Test goes into the final day.

Virat Kohli ended the year 2021 without scoring a century in international cricket as he departed for 18 in the second innings of the first Test against South Africa. In 2020 also Virat Kohli had failed to reach the triple-figure mark.

The Indian skipper had last scored a ton in the day-night Test against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens in 2019. South Africa bowler Marco Jansen removed Virat Kohli in the 33rd over as the batter’s quest for his 71st ton continued.