Harbhajan Singh has stated that he is hopeful of India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane taking the team forward and scoring runs with the bat against New Zealand in the two-match Test series. Harbhajan further added that Rahane is a brilliant cricketer, but his performance hasn't quite backed him.
After whitewashing New Zealand in the T20I series 3-0, India will lock horns with the Black Caps in a two-match Test series. The Test series will begin on Thursday, November 25 in Kanpur, and Ajinkya Rahane will lead the squad in the first match and Cheteshwar Pujara will be his deputy. India's full-time skipper Virat Kohli will join the squad for the second Test in Mumbai. Rahane had a successful time leading the national side in red-ball cricket as he became the only second Indian captain to win a Test series in Australia after their historic victory in the Brisbane Test. However, the batting form of Ajinkya Rahane remains a concern for Team India while heading to the first Test match which begins on Thursday.
Since scoring the hundred against Australia in Melbourne in 2020, Rahane managed to score only two half-centuries, which came against England (first in Chennai and second at Lord’s) this year. Apart from this, the right-hand batsman has aggregated just 372 runs from 11 matches this year.
Speaking on India's stand-in skipper, Harbhajan said that he needs to score runs in the series to cement his spot in the squad. The Indian spinner further added that the current form of Suryakumar Yadav and few youngsters in the squad will be a threat to Ajinkya Rahane if he fails to score runs.
"There's no Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma has opted to rest himself. Then there's Ajinkya Rahane; we were wondering whether he'll be in the team or not. But he has been handed the captaincy (for the first Test). His last 11 matches haven't gone too well as he is averaging just 19 (19.58). He is a brilliant cricketer but his performance hasn't quite backed him. But it's also good to see the thinking of Rohit, Virat, and Rahul Dravid as they believe that Rahane should be in the team," Harbhajan told Sportskeeda.
“Not that he has been given the captaincy, I hope he takes the team forward and also scores runs with the bat so we can see him playing for a little more. If he doesn't score runs, the queue (of players waiting in the ranks) behind him is very long. There's Suryakumar Yadav among others waiting in line,” explained Harbhajan.
The veteran spinner further added that it is important for the Indian team to start well as they are playing at home after a long time.
"The England Tour went very well for the team and then the final Test match did not happen. After that, a lot of T20 cricket was played, be it IPL  or the T20 World Cup. So, this is kind of a new season because this is the first Test match we are playing at home (after a long time).
"It will be important how India start against New Zealand because they are a strong side in India as well. I hope to see good cricket pitches in India and the Indian team move forward by playing good cricket," concluded Harbhajan.