India face a problem with Rohit’s form and Pujara’s technique?


India will be looking forward to levelling the series after losing the first Test

Rahane defends Rohit Sharma and Pujara’s playing style and said his role is very important and crucial for the Indian team

Our Bureau

The second Test between India and England, which gets underway on Saturday at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, will see the return of fans in the stadium after a more than 11-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The second Test will have 50 per cent crowd in attendance, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) secretary had confirmed last week.

England’s winning start against India in their ICC World Test Championship series has kept alive the visiting side’s hopes of making the final of the nine-team competition. The victory at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday lifted England to first place and 70.2 percentage points on the points table and they’ve improved their chances of securing one of the three series results in their favour that could see them through to the final – 3-1, 3-0 or 4-0.

India, who have slipped to the fourth position with 68.3 percentage points, cannot afford another loss in the four-match series and will be looking to win at least two of the remaining three matches to secure a 2-1 or 3-1 result and a place in the final.

The second Test will be played in Chennai at the MA Chidambaram Stadium before the cricketers move to Ahmedabad for the third and fourth Test. 

Before the Test, questions were raised over Rohit Sharma’s form after he scored six and 12 runs in the first Test match against England but India Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has backed the opener to come good in upcoming games.

Rahane on Friday said that one or two bad games don’t define Rohit’s form. The vice-captain praised Rohit and said everyone knows that he can score some big runs once he is set. Rohit (Sharma) is an important member of our team. A big score doesn’t imply that you have to score a century or 150. He made important contributions in Australia. You can’t judge a player over 4-6 innings or one or two matches,” said Rahane during the virtual press conference.

“You need to back your players and Rohit is the kind of cricketer who has won matches for India. We know when Rohit gets set he scores big. We’re really happy to have Rohit in the team,” he added.

Former cricketers including Ricky Ponting had also questioned Cheteshwar Pujara’s slow approach during the Australia tour but Rahane backed the batsman and said Pujara knows his role and game.

Pujara registered his slowest fifty in Test cricket during the third Test against Australia and Ponting had said the batsman’s slow batting created an unwanted pressure on the non-striker who had to compensate for his slow approach.

Rahane also backed Pujara’s playing style and said his role is very important and crucial for the Indian team. 

“No one questioned his approach (slow) about his batting in the team and that’s what matters. What people talk outside doesn’t matter to us. We know Pujara’s role and how crucial he is for our team and we are really happy with the way he played in Australia and the way he is playing right now. His role very important for us and we back him completely on how he wants to play. He knows his game really well. he has played 80 odd Test matches. No one questioned his ability or how he played in Australia,” said Rahane while replying to a query from ANI during the virtual press conference.

India all-rounder Axar Patel has recovered completely and is now available for selection for the second Test. “Everyone is in the mix, the good thing is Axar is fit to play. See all our spinners are really good and if given a chance I’m sure they will do really well,” said Rahane.

The wicket during the first Test against England did not offer much assistance to the spinners but India Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is sure that pitch will offer turn right from day one of the second Test.

Rahane on Friday said the team will have to wait and watch how the pitch behaves in the first session. The right-handed batsman wants to forget the loss in the first Test start afresh when India take on England on Saturday.

“[The pitch] Looks completely different, I am sure it will turn from day one. We will have to wait and see how it behaves in the first session and take it from there. We have to forget what happened in the first Test and focus on this and play good cricket,” said Rahane during the virtual press conference.

“And we know these conditions really well. We have to put our best foot forward tomorrow and play as a team. I thought our spinners bowled well in the 1st Test. If you see the second innings, especially Ashwin bowled really well, there is not much concern over their performance,” he added.

Rahane played some crucial knocks during the Australia tour but his recent outing with the bat has raised eyebrows about his form. The right-handed batsman scored one run in the first innings against England and was not able to get off the mark in the second essay.

“We are playing at home after two years. It’s all about the team, not about any individual. If you look at my last 10-15 Tests, you will find some runs there,” said Rahane. 

India’s Skipper Virat Kholi and Ajinkya Rahane during  the First test match between India and England at MA Chidambaram Stadium (BCCI/ANI Photo)

On the other hand, ahead of the second Test against India, England skipper Joe Root on Friday said he is desperate to be part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and explained why he did not register for the 2021 edition of the tournament.

“At some point of my career, I am desperate to be a part of an IPL season. Hopefully, a few more beyond that as well. It is something I would love to experience, and love to be a part of,” Root said in a virtual press conference. Terming the decision not to put his name in the auction for the upcoming IPL season as a difficult one, Root asserted that it was the right move under the circumstances.

“With the amount of international cricket and Test cricket, in particular, this year didn’t feel like it was the right time (to enter the IPL auction). I didn’t feel like I could throw in all my energy into it, which it deserves. And, I don’t think it would set me up and set English cricket up best with what’s to come. Very difficult decision. Hopefully, next year, there’s more of an opportunity to potentially be part of the IPL or at least be in the auction,” he added.

When asked about what impact it will have to play in front of the crowds for the first time since the pandemic Root said, “I think it will massively (impact). Having an atmosphere within the stadium is a massive part of international cricket what makes it special in many ways is that the interaction between fans and players. Obviously, when you come to India we all how passionate Indians are about cricket and it is a big part of life in many ways here. We are very much excited about that and we are looking forward for that.”

Root also announced England’s final XII for the second Test: Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, Dan Lawrence, Joe Root(C), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Ben Woakes, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Jack Leach, Olly Stone.

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