New Zealand series final chance, out-of-form Ajinkya Rahane might find himself out of favor for SA tour - Sources

<a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'>Ajinkya Rahane</a> scored just 109 runs at an average of 15.57 on the England tour this year
Ajinkya Rahane scored just 109 runs at an average of 15.57 on the England tour this year

India batter Shreyas Iyer is all set to make his debut in the longest format in the first Test versus New Zealand starting Thursday in Kanpur. Meanwhile, the out-of-form Ajinkya Rahane has been given an ultimatum by the selectors to perform, Sportskeeda has reliably learnt.

After regular opener KL Rahul was on Tuesday ruled out of the two-Test series with a muscle strain in his left thigh, Suryakumar Yadav was added as a replacement. However, Shreyas, who was part of the original 16-member squad, will get the cap ahead of the 31-year-old. Notably, Surya was flown into England as well as a replacement player but didn’t get gametime.

In another big development, interim captain Ajinkya Rahane is under tremendous pressure to score big. Otherwise, with Virat Kohli returning, the national selectors might be tempted to play either Shreyas or Surya in the middle order when India tour South Africa later this year.

“This is his redemption series. If he can’t get it, they [selectors] will get both Surya and Shreyas in South Africa. He is under clear pressure to deliver, all selectors' eyes will be on him, because this is his final test. If he fails here, he might find it difficult to be on the team to South Africa,” a source close to the Indian team told Sportskeeda.

Even though India put in a dominant performance in England in August-September this year, leading the series 2-1, the clamor to overhaul the middle order grew outside. While No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t gotten a Test hundred since January 2019, Rahane has scored just two fifties since notching up that match-winning 112 in the Boxing Day Test.

Since the start of 2021, Pujara has amassed 591 runs at an average of 29.55 with six fifties to boot. Rahane, on the other hand, has totalled just 372 runs at a mediocre average of 19.5. If the 33-year-old fails to make it big in these two Tests against the Kiwis, it might well be the end of the road for a player who has perpetually been under the scanner for varied reasons.

Full Test schedule and squads for India vs New Zealand 2021 (Timings in IST)

1st Test: November 25-29 – Green Park, Kanpur – 9:30 AM

2nd Test: December 3-7 – Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – 9:30 AM

New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Rachin Ravindra, Will Young, Mitchell Santner, William Somerville, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell, Tom Latham, Glenn Phillips, Kyle Jamieson, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner

India Test squad: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna

Note: Virat Kohli will join the squad for the second Test and will lead the team.

Edited by Sai Krishna
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