The Indian Test captain, Virat Kohli has backed veterans Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara ahead of the series decider against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town. Both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have been receiving backlash for their recent form and dismal performances.
Pujara and Rahane were under severe pressure but both the cricketers displayed their class as they played high-spirited knocks in India’s second innings in the second Test in Johannesburg. Together they stitched a 111-run stand for the third wicket, which helped team India in setting a target of 240 runs for the Proteas. Both the cricketers smashed half-centuries to announce their comeback in style.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who hasn’t scored a century for more than two years now, scored 53 runs off 86 balls before he was dismissed by a beauty from Kagiso Rabada. On the other hand, Ajinkya Rahane, who scored his last century at the Gabba last year, scored 58 runs off 78 balls.
Meanwhile, the Indian Test captain, Virat Kohli has shown immense faith in the veteran cricketers. He said their experience in overseas conditions is “priceless.” He said:
“If you look at the last Test especially in the second, both Rahane and Pujara (batted really well)… That experience if priceless for us. In a series like this where you know these guys have done the job in the past. When you play overseas in tough conditions, these guys will always step up with impact performances. We’ve seen that in Australia. We saw that in the last Test as well. These are crucial knocks in crucial scenarios. That has a lot of value,”
Several former cricketers, experts, and pundits have backed Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer for the middle-order’s spot permanently in Test cricket, however, Virat feels that the transition should happen naturally and not forced on individuals. He said:
“I cannot pinpoint when we’ll have a transition in the team. The way Pujara and Ajinkya batted in the last Test that experience is priceless for us. I feel transitions do happen but they happen naturally, you can’t force them,”