Aakash Chopra believes Ajinkya Rahane will not play for Team India against South Africa, especially if the visitors select for only five specialist batsmen.
Rahane has had a particularly bad run in Test cricket recently. While his willow has dried up, the greater problem is that the Indian vice-captain has been timid and uneasy in the middle.
“It is hypothetical of course, even the squad is yet to be picked. I am not sure about Rahane. Although, I think there will be no place for him in the XI if Virat Kohli goes with the same combination – that is five batters, five bowlers plus a wicket-keeper in Pant.” He said
“I cannot drop Shreyas Iyer now. Thus, I am even thinking about Hanuma Vihari. You had sent him to South Africa for this only and he has made runs also there. So play him as well if you want to play a sixth batter. I will choose performance and form over reputation at this point in time.” he added
Pujara, on the other hand, is expected to preserve his starting spot, according to Aakash Chopra. The 44-year-old added that the tenacious batter has been among the runs in recent games and that he is deserving of a berth on the club.
“Cheteshwar Pujara – yes, in my opinion. He will retain his spot in the playing XI because he has scored recently at No.3, not too many but he has scored. He has been scoring runs if you see the last few Test matches. You can see the second innings at Lord’s, the second innings at Leeds, in fact if you see the second innings at Wankhede – he has started scoring runs. So I am still rooting for Cheteshwar Pujara. So it is tough for Rahane but Pujara will make it into the XI.” He explained
In 13 Tests this year, Pujara has scored 686 runs at a below-par average of 29.82. Despite the fact that this is well below his career average, the 33-year-old appears to be regaining his rhythm and form recently.