Saturday, July 6, 2024

The heat is on: Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane living on borrowed time?

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Over eleven thousand Test runs and thirty Test centuries between the two of them. And yet it’s been a very long time since either Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane inspired real confidence when they walked out to bat for India in a Test match.

The India first innings in the ongoing Johannesburg Test vs the Proteas was another reminder of just how much these two very experienced hands have been struggling. While Pujara played 33 balls, before falling for 3 to Duanne Oliver, Rahane stayed at the crease for just one delivery, before falling to the Kolpak-returnee.

There’s no doubt that the pitch at the Wanderers is not the easiest track to bat on. Spongy bounce that the Protea bowlers have used almost to perfection. You could see how Pujara was set up. But this was the exact setting that would have required the likes of Pujara and Rahane to step up to the plate and perform big time. No Virat Kohli, no easy runs to be had, only five specialist batsmen (not counting wicket-keeper batsman Risabh Pant here). The stage was set up perfectly for the two experienced players to show that they can still pack a punch or two. But their performances were not in sync with what the team, the fans and the management, which has been backing them heavily for a while now, really wanted. The tame way in which they both departed in fact was perhaps even harder to watch.

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Also read: India vs South Africa 2nd Test Day 2 Highlights: India 85/2 At Stumps, Lead South Africa By 58 Runs

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