Wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik noted that Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane would be disappointed with their outings on Day 1 of the first India-New Zealand Test. Both senior players were undone by poor shot selection against pace bowling, which works against their favor ahead of the crucial overseas tour of South Africa.
Karthik reckons that the repeated set of poor outings and lack of big scores in the recent past adds more pressure from the outside on Pujara and Rahane. The duo retained their place on the back of some positive cricket in the latter stages of the England tour.
However, they are far from immunity, especially with players like Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav waiting on the sidelines. While speaking on Cricbuzz, Karthik said:
"I think they would be disappointed and there's no doubt about it. Obviously, there's talk outside about them that they need to score hundreds because they haven't for some time. So with every match, the pressure seems to increase."
The Tamil Nadu batsman added:
"Obviously, because Test match is played sporadically they are not under the spotlight as often, because there's been a lot more white-ball cricket with the World Cup and the T20Is against NZ. But once Test cricket starts with full tilt again, every time they don't score runs, they'll come under the spotlight, so to say in a negative way. And with every game voices from outside seem to get louder."
Meanwhile, Shreyas Iyer made a strong case for himself with a composed fifty in his debut innings for India. With Virat Kohli being a certainty in the middle order as captain, runs are of the utmost priority for Pujara and Rahane if they wish to retain their places in the playing XI.
Rahul Dravid might be the catalyst for their Test career propelling forward: Karthik on Pujara and Rahane
While the signs are bleak for Pujara and Rahane, Karthik believes Rahul Dravid is the right person to get them back on track. The duo's defensive acumen has not been as bright as it was during their peak days.
However, Karthik feels Dravid, being one of the finest exponents of red ball cricket, can help them rectify their faltering technique and approach.
"Having said that, Rahul Dravid knows the value of a Pujara and a Rahane. I think somewhere the quality of Rahul Dravid will come out through these two batters because of very similar methods and very similar styles of play," Karthik said. "So maybe he feels that he can get the best out of them and sort of a second re-living for them and Rahul Dravid might be the catalyst, for their test career propelling forward."
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Pujara's woes outside the off-stump have escalated to alarming proportions in recent games. Meanwhile, Rahane's fidgety nature at the start of his innings has largely caused his downfall in the recent past.