As India fret over their team combination for the Mumbai Test, pressure begins to mount on the middle-order duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. Lack of runs from both the senior batters has led to fingers being pointed at them and their place in the Indian Test team, especially after debutant Shreyas Iyer hit a century and a fifty in the Kanpur Test and Suryakumar Yadav waiting in the wings.
With captain Virat Kohli set to return for the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium starting Friday, it remains interesting to see whom he replaces. The ideal candidate to make way would be Rahane, as Pujara still has some good innings to show, but if former England fast bowler Steve Harmison is to be believed, both players appear to be on the last leg of their Test careers.
“I think they both make way, there are lots of questions about Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. They both might make way. I think they both [Rahane and Pujara] looked as if they were done, they both walked off the field in that first innings as they knew it may be the last time that they walk off the field for India,” Harmison said on his YouTube channel.
After his match-winning 115 against Australia in Melbourne in December last year, Rahane has gone past fifty only twice, whereas Cheteshwar Pujara is due for a big score for a while now. Although India’s No. 3 has fared marginally better than Rahane, the fact that he has gone almost 40 innings without a Test century is a concern. If it were up to Harmison, he would leave out both players from India’s XI for the Mumbai Test.
“Pujara especially, 39 innings without a hundred is a long time for a player to bat in the top six and still warrant a place in that great Indian side. I would leave both out as they have both been as bad as each other because you are definitely going to bring Kohli back into the side,” added the former England quick.