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"We know Pujara's role and how crucial he is for our team" - Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane (L) and Cheteshwar Pujara
Ajinkya Rahane (L) and Cheteshwar Pujara
Modified 12 Feb 2021

Ajinkya Rahane has rubbished all rumors of Team India having a problem with their Test mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara's slow batting. The Indian Test vice-captain has stated that the entire team understands the importance of the 33-year-old's role in the team and that is to blunt the effect of the new ball.

Pujara's approach was questioned by many former cricketers, especially Ricky Ponting when he scored his slowest Test fifty in the first innings of the Sydney Test. The former Australian skipper believes such slow batting puts unnecessary pressure on the non-striker to score runs quickly.

However, in a video conference before the second Test in Chennai against England, Ajinkya Rahane clarified that the Indian team is proud of the way Pujara batted in Australia.

"No one questioned his approach (slow) about his batting in the team and that's what matters. What people talk outside doesn't matter to us. We know Pujara's role and how crucial he is for our team and we are really happy with the way he played in Australia and the way he is playing right now," Ajinkya Rahane said.

Axar Patel is fit to play the second Test: Ajinkya Rahane

All-rounder Axar Patel was named in Team India's Test squad since Ravindra Jadeja did not fully recover from a thumb injury sustained in Sydney. The 27-year-old was set to make his debut in the first Test but had to be ruled out due to a knee injury.

The hosts thus had to play Washington Sundar due to his all-round abilities. Kuldeep Yadav had to make way for left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.


Axar returned to the nets on Thursday and Ajinkya Rahane has confirmed that the all-rounder is fit for selection ahead of the second Test. The 32-year-old also stated that every single spinner in the squad is good enough to feature in the playing XI.

"Everyone is in the mix, the good thing is Axar is fit to play. See all our spinners are really good and if given a chance, I'm sure they will do really well," Ajinkya Rahane asserted.

After Nadeem's poor outing in the first Test, Kuldeep looked set to make a comeback in the longest format after a gap of more than two years. But with Axar being fit again and Sundar having scored a fine 85* in the first Test, the dynamics of the team could change.

It remains to be seen whether Team India will drop Sundar for Axar and play Kuldeep in place of Nadeem. There is also a possibility that both Axar and Sundar could play, and the 26-year-old could miss out again.

There are many selection headaches that the Indian team management needs to address before the commencement of the second Test.

Published 12 Feb 2021, 18:03 IST
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