Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have once again landed in hot waters following their flop show against South Africa in the second Test at the Wanderers. Despite a steady start, the visitors couldn’t avoid the collapse and were bundled out for 202 in the first innings. The middle-order looked fragile as no other batter, apart from KL Rahul and Ashwin, could withstand the Proteas attack.
The focus was on Pujara and Rahane, who have been dealing with a lean patch in their respective careers. Unfortunately, there no were signs of improvement. The former faced 33 balls and scored only 3 runs. Rahane, on the other hand, bagged a golden duck; for the first time in Test cricket.
While the duo received massive criticism from fans on social media, veteran India wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik feels either of the batters would have to make way for Virat Kohli, if the skipper returns for the final Test in Cape Town.
In a conversation with Cricbuzz, Karthik opined that the ‘long rope’ given to India’s two senior middle-order batters is burning down slowly and nearing its end.
“At No. 3 in inarguably the world’s best cricket team, to find a spot there for three years and not score a hundred – he (Pujara) will know he’s got a long, long rope. To a large extent they are playing because of the potential they have, and the performances they have shown, and obviously, they are senior statesmen [in the team] as well. But the long rope they have been given is slowly burning out and you are coming to the end of it. I am very, very sure that they are both aware of it. Also, we have got to see the potential of the players at the back, they have done as well. Now if Virat Kohli returns, you get a feeling that one of the two has to give way,” Karthik told Cricbuzz.
The India wicketkeeper-batter further stated that head coach Rahul Dravid won’t hesitate in making harsh decisions on the Rahane-Pujara duo if they keep on failing to score.
“When Rahul Dravid was at the fag end of his career, it was actually Pujara who came in and did well at that No. 3 spot, put pressure on him to eventually take his spot… Obviously, that circle comes around. I do think Rahul Dravid will have to make a couple of harsh decisions and if that means dropping one or both of them, he’ll be open to it because he knows that they have been given a long rope before… You don’t want to set the ground ablaze by making the big decisions right at the outset so I think he’s waiting and trying to assess what he can contribute to their careers and if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be,” Karthik concluded.