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IND vs NZ | Rahane just one innings away from returning to form, feels Pujara

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Ajinkya Rahane could manage mere 109 runs at 15.57 from four Tests in England earlier this year

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IND vs NZ | Rahane just one innings away from returning to form, feels Pujara

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SportsCafe Desk

11/23/2021

Cheteshwar Pujara has backed Ajinkya Rahane to rediscover his best during the upcoming two-match Test series against New Zealand beginning Thursday, November 25, in Kanpur. Rahane, who will lead the team in the first Test in Virat Kohli’s absence, has managed 372 runs at 19.58 from 11 Tests in 2021.

Leading the team in regular skipper Virat Kohli’s absence after the first Test in Australia last year, Rahane scored a match-defining hundred at the MCG to power India to a series-levelling win, and his smart tactics thereafter helped the team register a historic 2-1 series win.

However, the Mumbai batsman experienced a major dip in form thereafter, and his selection has been a major subject of debate. Since the start of the year, Rahane has aggregated 372 runs at 19.58 from 19 innings, while managing just two 50-plus scores.

Cheteshwar Pujara, who will be Rahane’s deputy in the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur, feels that the 33-year-old is just an innings away from getting back to form.

“He is a great player. There are times where a player goes through a tough time,” Pujara said in a press-conference on Tuesday, November 23. “That’s part of this game. There will be ups and downs. But I feel he is a confident player, he is someone who works hard on his game. I am very sure that he is just one innings away. Once he gets a big score or a big hundred, he will be back in form.”

“He has been working hard in the nets, I have seen the way he has been batting. He is in good touch and hoping that he will score big runs in this series.”

As for Pujara himself, there is an added sense of responsibility with him being named the vice-captain. His ultimate focus lies on helping the team move forward and accumulate as many points as possible in the World Test Championship points table.

“The added responsibility is good sometimes,” Pujara said. “It can work in your favor because you can share your experience of what a youngster can do. Mainly, even as a player, if I am not vice-captain, I always try and share my experiences. So the responsibility (is there).

"Yes, I am vice-captain, but the ultimate focus is about the Indian team, the way we can move forward. There is another Test championship going on, so we would like to be on top and try and get as many points as possible.”

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