India captain Virat Kohli on Saturday said it’s not his job to discuss the future of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara after the two senior batters failed to step up in their 2-1 defeat to South Africa in a hard-fought Test series. Kohli said India continued to back the two senior batters based on what they have done for India over the years and highlighted that they chipped in with crucial contributions.
Speaking to the press after the Test series defeat at Newlands on Saturday, Virat Kohli conceded that the batters didn’t step up after the series-opening victory in Centurion but said it’s not right on his part to comment on the futures of Rahane and Pujara.
Questions were asked of Rahane and Pujara’s places in the side even before the start of the tour of South Africa. In fact, Rahane lost his role as vice-captain ahead of the start of the series but the team management backed the senior duo in overseas conditions in South Africa.
“We need to step up with the bat. There is no running away from that. To answer this question, I can’t sit here and talk about what’s going to happen in the future. That’s not for me to sit here and discuss. You have to speak to the selectors to find out what they have in mind, that’s not my job,” Virat Kohli said.
“As I said before and I will say again, we have continued to back Cheteshwarand Ajinkya because of the kind of players they are and what they have done in Test cricket over the years. They have done well in crucial situations, you saw that in the 2nd Test as well with that important partnership in the 2nd innings which got us to a total that we could fight for,” he added.
“These are the kind of performances that we recognise as a team. What the selectors have in mind and what they decide to do, I obviously can’t comment on that at this moment, sitting here.”
Rahane chipped in with a crucial 48 and 20 in the first Test as India defeated South Africa by 113 runs in Centurion. The senior pro though struggled for consistency, getting out for nought in the first innings of the Johannesburg Test before stepping up with a fifty in the 2nd innings in a hundred-plus stand with Pujara.
In the 3rd Test, the two senior batters failed in the crucial 2nd innings as India managed just 198 on the board despite a stunning hundred from Rishabh Pant.
While Rahane managed 136 runs in 3 Tests, Pujara hit 124 in 3 Tests as India’s batting unit let the team down in the last two Tests as the visitors missed out on what was a fine opportunity to win their first-ever Test series victory in South Africa.
India’s bating has come under the scanner once again as openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal were ordinary after their heroic knocks in the first Test. The lower-middle order comprising of R Ashwin and Shardul Thakur failed to add to the team’s tally consistently as India paid the price for opting to go in with a 5-bowler attack.
India managed to set targets of 223 and 212 in the last two Tests as Dean Elgar’s steely South African side chased them down with 7 wickets to spare on both occasions.