India batting coach Vikram Rathour on Sunday backed senior batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to bounce back from a lean run of form. He also refused to give much hint on whether Shreyas Iyer’s century and half-century in the respective innings of his debut Test have done enough to push either of Pujara or Rahane out of the playing eleven for the second Test in Mumbai.
“Of course, you want the top-order to contribute. But, as you mentioned, the cricketers who have played 80 and 90 Test matches, so they have the experience. To play that many games, they must have done well for us. I understand that both of them are going through a lean phase but they have played very, very important knocks in the past. We are pretty sure that they will bounce back and play pretty important knocks for the team in future as well,” said Rathour while replying to a query about the lack of returns from the two senior cricketers.
In Test matches this year, Rahane has now scored 411 runs in 21 innings at an average of 19.57, with just two half-centuries. A lot was expected of him in the first Test but Rahane registered scores of 35 and 4, resulting in his Test career average going below 40.
Pujara, on the other hand, hasn’t scored a century since his knock of 193 against Australia in the 2019 Sydney Test. Though Pujara starred in playing important knocks on tours to Australia and England this year, his inability to convert the start into a big total without much fluidity has left many baffled. In this Test, Pujara made 26 and 22 in both innings.
Asked on how long the team management can continue with diminishing returns from both batters, Rathour said, “I don’t think we can put a number to that. That really depends on the situation the team is in and what the team requires. With the captain (Virat Kohli) coming back in, it will happen in the next game. We will get to that point when we reach Mumbai. At this point, we are focused on this game. There is a day to go and a game to be won. So, we are really focused on this game and we will get to that point once we land in Mumbai.”
Rathour didn’t give any confirmation on Iyer retaining his place for the Mumbai Test after making 170 runs overall from his first Test. “As I said before, that decision we will take when we land in Mumbai on what will be our playing eleven.”