Zaheer Khan Feels There Is More Pressure On Cheteshwar Pujara Than Ajinkya Rahane But Either Of The Two Have To Be Dropped For 2nd Test
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Zaheer Khan Feels There Is More Pressure On Cheteshwar Pujara Than Ajinkya Rahane But Either Of The Two Have To Be Dropped For 2nd Test

Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar

Zaheer Khan opened up on India’s selection headache ahead of the second Test against New Zealand in Mumbai. Captain Virat Kohli is set to return to lead the team, and it remains to be seen who he replaces in the playing XI. The return of skipper Virat Kohli for the Mumbai Test match between India and New Zealand is set to create a major selection dilemma for the Indian team management.

Shreyas Iyer, who made his debut in the first Test match at Kanpur, scored a century in the first innings and a half-century in the second to bail the hosts out of pressure situations on both occasions. India finished on the top of the game in the 1st drawn Test despite not picking the last New Zealand wicket.

Zaheer Khan (Photo credit should read Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)
Zaheer Khan (Photo credit should read Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)

Zaheer Khan: Shreyas Iyer Made Good Use Of His Opportunity

With Kanpur Test debutant Shreyas Iyer making himself almost undroppable, Virat Kohli is left with a major selection headache in his comeback Test. With the dwindling form of senior players like Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, the axe could fall on either one of them.

Former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan reckons Cheteshwar Pujara is under more pressure than Ajinkya Rahane going into the match. Zaheer Khan reckons Cheteshwar Pujara might have to sacrifice his batting position for the team.

Zaheer Khan said, “The middle-order headache for this Test has come after Iyer’s fantastic debut performance. Iyer made good use of his opportunity. Virat Kohli is sure to come in, so there needs to be space made in the middle-order.”‘

Shreyas Iyer at the Green Park Stadium Photo: BCCI
Shreyas Iyer at the Green Park Stadium Photo: BCCI

Zaheer Khan added, “I think there is a bit more pressure on Pujara and that is not entirely performance-based. Have seen in previous instances that often an opener gets dropped. They might go in a direction and ask whether Pujara can open in these conditions, but there is no denying that there needs to be some shuffling.”

Meanwhile, Shreyas Iyer became the hero of the 1st Kanpur Test as he smashed his maiden century (105) on Day 2 of the first Test and again stole the show with his knock of 65, helping India in a position of command on Day 4 of the Kanpur Test. New Zealand managed to survive by the barest of margins on the last day of the first Test against India after a gritty performance from their lower-order batters ensured that visitors walked away with a draw.

Zaheer Khan: Either Cheteshwar Pujara Or Ajinkya Rahane Have To Be Dropped

The 43-year-old also asserted that Shreyas Iyer has to play at his home venue, and either an opener (Mayank Agarwal/ Shubman Gill), Cheteshwar Pujara, or Ajinkya Rahane must be dropped to make way for Virat Kohli.

“Iyer should definitely play, there is absolutely no question about it. They either have to drop an opener or drop either one of Pujara or Rahane,” said Zaheer Khan.

Despite leading the team in the Kanpur Test, there are huge questions marks on Ajinkya Rahane’s form after another poor outing in the first game. In India’s tour of England earlier this year, he scored just 109 runs in 7 innings. Ajinkya Rahane’s overall batting average in Test cricket has fallen below 40 in recent times.

Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara (AFP Photo)
Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara (AFP Photo)

There is debate over Cheteshwar Pujara’s place in the team, too, as the veteran Indian batter has not scored a century in Test cricket for almost three years. However, Cheteshwar Pujara had performed much better in England and his knock at Oval was crucial in helping India take a series lead.

While Ajinkya Rahane has not scored a century since December 2020- a memorable 112 against Australia, Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t scored a ton since he made 193 against Australia in January 2019. Ajinkya Rahane is averaging just 20.35 this year from 12 Tests, while Cheteshwar Pujara has done slightly better at 30.85 from the same number of games in 2021 but had a horrid time in 2020, averaging only 20.38 in 4 Tests.

Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored 26 and 22 in Kanpur, was dismissed in a similar manner as he was criticized for having a technical flaw in his game. Mayank Agarwal managed scores of 13 and 17 in the Kanpur Test. On the other hand, Ajinkya Rahane scored 35 and 4 in the 1st Test. One of the trios has to make way for Virat Kohli, who will return in the 2nd Test.

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