Zaheer Khan is of the opinion that India may look for alternatives in the middle order by replacing Ajinkya Rahane, who has not been able to find his touch in the ongoing series against England. Zaheer lauded Pujara for his sublime 91 in the second innings of the third Test at Headingley.
England dominated India to clinch a victory by an innings and 76 runs in the third Test at Headingley. The middle-order of the visitors failed to impress with the bat once again in the ongoing five-match Test series. Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara scored their first half-centuries in the series to end their drought for runs. While, Ajinkya Rahane, who is known as an overseas specialist, yet again disappointed the skipper and the management.
The right-hand batsman scored 61 runs in the second innings at Lord’s, but Rahane could not take his confidence to the third Test at Headingley. Rahane has been struggling in the red-ball format after his century against Australia at Melbourne in December 2020. However, India’s No.3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara stood solid in the crease and made a remarkable 91 to end his run drought. Former Indian pacer, Zaheer Khan has thus hinted at a possible chance of Virat Kohli leaving out Rahane in the fourth Test at Oval due to his poor run of form.
“Pujara was under pressure but he found a way to get out of that. He did something different and he got the results. Rahane hasn’t been able to do that. I think the series has reached at such a stage where these things would be analyzed. And it’s possible that you can see a change,” Zaheer told Cricbuzz, reported HT.
Both Rahane and Pujara were under criticism from the beginning of the ongoing series against England. Rahane replied with his 61 at Lord’s, but he could not continue his good run further. While Cheteshwar Pujara played magnificent innings under pressure in the second innings of the third Test, Rahane failed to perform with the willow. Zaheer Khan stated that Pujara raised according to the situation but Rahane failed to perform under pressure.
“Two players were under fire. One stepped up and performed but the other doesn’t seem comfortable yet,” Zaheer added.
The cricketer-turned-commentator reckoned that a senior player like Rahane cannot be a regular call in the playing XI by boasting about his past innings.
“When you play for a longer period of time, you cannot just be in the team depending on the past performances. You have to meet the continuity.
“At the same time your role gets changed. You don’t just think about your game but need to set an example for the youngsters as a strong middle-order batsman. So, the more you progress in your career, the level of scrutiny also goes up,” he added.
If Rahane is excluded from the playing XI for the fourth Test at Oval, it will open the door for either Hanuma Vihari or Suryakumar Yadav.