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Will India drop Rahane for Mumbai Test?

By HARISH KOTIAN
December 01, 2021 07:29 IST
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Ajinkya Rahane

IMAGE: Ajinkya Rahane has suffered a huge dip in form recently, managing just 411 in 12 Tests played this year at an average of 19.57. Photograph: BCCI
 

With the senior duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane struggling for runs, India face a major selection headache going into the second and final Test against New Zealand in Mumbai on Friday.

Shreyas Iyer enjoyed a dream debut, scoring a century and a half-century in the first Test in Kanpur to all but seal his place in the middle order.

With Captain Virat Kohli back to lead the team at the Wankhede stadium, Coach Rahul Dravid will be thinking hard and long on whom to keep out.

Ajinkya Rahane, who captained India in the Kanpur Test, faces the possibility of being dropped for the Test to be played at his home ground.

Rahane has suffered a huge dip in form, managing just 411 in 12 Tests played this year at an average of 19.57, with two half-centuries. He has scored just one century in the last two years.

Dravid admitted that the team is looking for runs from Rahane, who has been one of the pillars of India's batting line-up in recent years.

'Of course, you would like more runs from Ajinkya, he would like to score more runs,"' he said after the Kanpur Test, in which Rahane scored 35 and 4.

Pujara is another player woefully short of runs, having scored 802 runs in 16 Tests in the last two years at an average of 27, without a single century. But India wouldn't risk leaving out both Rahane and Pujara in a series-deciding Test at home.

If India decide to stick with Rahane, it would mean making a few changes in the batting line-up to accomodate him. Pujara might have to open in place of Mayank Agarwal, who could be axed after failing in both innings in Kanpur, with Iyer moving up to No 3, and Kohli below him.

Among the bowlers, Ishant Sharma is likely to be dropped after going wicketless in Kanpur. With India unable to bowl out the Kiwis on the final day, they will look towards someone like Mohammed Siraj, who has been impressive in his short Test career.

India are likely to retain their spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja, with the Mumbai pitch expected to aid the slower bowlers much more than Kanpur.

Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (w/k), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav.

Who do you think should be part of India's playing XI for the second Test against New Zealand, starting on Friday?

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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