Shreyas Iyer’s dream debut has only added to India’s selection headache amid Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s “lean phase”, for the second Test against New Zealand as full-time skipper Virat Kohli will return for the Mumbai game. India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour has thrown his weight behind the two veteran batters while remaining tight-lipped on Iyer’s place in the XI.
With scores of 35 and 4 in the Kanpur Test, Rahane’s batting average has fallen to 39.01, which is now his worst since February 2014 (37.28), which was only his 4th innings in Test cricket. Meanwhile Pujara, since his sensational tour of Australia in 2018/19, which spans 23 Tests and 40 innings, hasn’t scored a century. Pujara scored 26 and 22 in the opening Test against New Zealand.
Despite the poor returns with the bat, Rathour has backed the “two senior cricketers” to deliver important knocks in the future.
“Of course we want our top order to contribute, but the cricketers you mentioned have played 80 and 90 Test matches so they have the experience,” Rathour said. “Of course to play that many games they must have done well for us. I understand both of them are going through a lean phase but they have played very very important knocks for us in the past, and we are pretty sure they will come back and play more important knocks for our team in the future as well.”
So will both retain their places when Kohli returns to the playing XI for the Mumbai Test? “The captain coming back in will happen in Mumbai, I understand,” Rathour said. “We will get to that point when we reach Mumbai. At this point we are focused on this game. There is still a day to go, and a game to be won. So we are really focused on this game.”
Rathour also did speak a work about Iyer’s place in the second Test. “That decision we will take when we land in Mumbai,” Rathour said.
Iyer scored 105 in his debut Test innings becoming the 16th Indian to the feat before making a place of his own in Indian cricket history with a knock of 65 in the second innings in Kanpur, becoming the first batsman from the country to score a century and a fifty in maiden appearance.