With all the positive things happening in and around the Indian cricket team, there seems to be a rising concern regarding the form of three Test stalwarts in Cheteshwar Pujara, Captain Kohli and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. These three have been strong pillars of Indian Test batting for some years now but their recent returns have been way short of the high standards they set for themselves.
The ongoing series against England would be the real test for the trio but how concerned should an Indian fan be regarding their lack of form? Let’s look at them individually.
CHESTESHWAR PUJARA LOOKS OUT OF TOUCH
India’s number three, Cheteshwar Pujara is probably the most concerning of the lot. Pujara is renowned for his big innings in tough conditions where he guts it out and is ready to take body blows to get his team in a winning position. The last two years in Test cricket haven’t been exactly how Pujara would have wanted them to be. In 19 matches in the past two years, Pujara has just averaged a little above 27 and has no centuries to his name. His record has been particularly poor in conditions where the ball has done a bit. His average has been falling consistently since 2019. This five-match series against England would be the perfect time for the real Pujara to step up and repair some cracks in his rock-solid technique.
NO CENTURIES SINCE 2019 FOR KING KOHLI
This stat has been going around for quite some time now as it is almost impossible to believe that Virat Kohli’s last international came way back in 2019 in the day-night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens. Kohli’s average in the past two years is around 40.60 which isn’t the worst but when you compare it to his career average then you realise that this isn’t Kohli’s best phase in his career. In the four matches he has played in England and New Zealand so far in the past two years, Kohli hasn’t looked comfortable at all and his technique has been found wanting. Getting a peach of a delivery first up from James Anderson in the first Test at Nottingham didn’t help his cause either. He’d be hoping to replicate his form from 2018 and hoping to break the duck of not having an international century in the past two years.
AJINKYA RAHANE FINDING DIFFERENT WAYS OF GETTING OUT
If you look at Ajinkya Rahane’s numbers from the past two years then you wouldn’t find anything alarming. He has averaged 41.57 which is actually higher than his career average of 40.80. He also has three centuries under his belt in the same period and none more important than the one in Melbourne in 2020. So what is this narrative that Ajinkya Rahane is struggling with his Test form? This is where numbers can be misleading. For a player of Rahane’s quality, he’d certainly be disappointed with the way he has been dismissed in the past few innings. No two dismissals seem the same so that indicates that there isn’t one glaring issue in his technique but a mental block of sorts where he is finding new ways of getting dismissed. His average has plummeted since the 2019 season. From 2020 he has averaged just 26.41 and that is a sign of worry for the Indian vice-captain.
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