With captain Kohli back for next game, batting coach Rathour "understands" Pujara-Rahane lean patch
But the former opener on Sunday couldn't give a definitive answer as to who would sit out in order to accommodate skipper Virat Kohli's comeback in the next Test against New Zealand.
With Shreyas Iyer scoring 105 and 65 on debut, it would be almost criminal to drop the stylish Mumbaikar, and understandably, Rathour had to fend questions on Pujara and Rahane's form going into the Mumbai Test, starting on December 3.
''Of course, you want the top-order to contribute but cricketers (Pujara and Rahane) you mentioned they have played 80 (79 for Rahane) and 90 Tests (91 Test for Pujara).
''Of course, to play that many games, they must have done well for us,'' Rathour tried his best to defend the 2021 Test average of below 20 by the stand-in captain (19.57) and 30.42 by his deputy.
''We understand that both of them are going through a lean phase but we understand that they have both played very, very important knocks for us in the past. We are pretty sure that they are going to come back and play important knocks for us,'' Rathour's statement lacked conviction.
But what's the kind of long rope that one gives a senior player, who has been a past performer? Is it 15 or 20 Tests? The former Punjab opener, who played six Tests during the 1996-97 season, felt that it can't be quantified.
''I don't think you can put a number to that. It really depends on situation the team is in and what the team is required to do,'' he sidestepped the question.
The next question was even more straightforward: whom do you drop when Kohli takes his slot back in the Mumbai game? ''Captain coming back in, that will happen in next game and we will get to that point when we reach Mumbai. The focus is on this game and there is a day to go and a game to be won. We will get to that point when we get in Mumbai,'' the opener of yesteryears dead-batted the query.
Can he, at the least, say with a degree of certainty that Iyer, after his dream debut, won't be dropped in the next game? There had been an instance when Karun Nair was left to cool his heels just after scoring a triple ton as an injured Rahane was making a comeback.
''Once we land in Mumbai, we will take that call, what our playing XI is going to be,'' he repeated.
It is going to be a tightrope walk for the Indian team management when its best batter comes back in the next game.
The problem in accommodating Pujara and Rahane is that the two juniors -- Shubman Gill and Iyer -- who would have been easily disposable after a singular failure have scored runs and done that with a lot of authority on a tacky, if not, unplayable surface.
One is to ask Pujara to open the batting, which looks unlikely going by his confidence level at the moment. The second option will be to look at either Wriddhiman Saha opening the innings alongside Gill and Iyer coming in at No. 6 instead of the No 5 that he batted in this game. This is provided Saha is completely fit from his stiff neck issue, which troubled him in this game.
The third option is playing with four bowlers and expecting Iyer to at least give 10 overs of leg spin along with three other spinners while dropping one of the pacers.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)