'India need players in form. Those 2 have got to play': Harmison names his Playing XI for SA Tests; omits Pujara, Rahane

  • Former England pacer Steve Harmison feels that if India are to survive against the pacers of South Africa on their turf, Virat Kohli needs to include players who are in form.
Steve Harmison has left out Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane from his India XI. (Getty)
Steve Harmison has left out Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane from his India XI. (Getty)
Published on Dec 07, 2021 07:09 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

Former England fast bowler Steve Harmison feels it is about time India let go Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane from their Playing XI and boost their middle-order with some young blood. The batting duo of Pujara and Rahane have been struggling for form, with India's No. 3 not scoring a century in over 40 Test innings, while their vice-captain finds himself in the middle of a slump, having scored just two half-centuries since his match-saving 115 against Australia at the MCG in December of 2020.

Harmison feels if India are to survive against the pacers of South Africa on their turf, Virat Kohli needs to include players who are in form. Picking his India XI, Harmison did not find a place for either Pujara or Rahane, and backed the batting duo of Shreyas Iyer and Mayank Agarwal replacing them in the team for the Test series in South Africa starting December 26 at the Super Sport Park in Centurion.

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"If you're going to go to South Africa and survive against Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi, they need people in form. And the ones who are in form are Shreyas Iyer and Mayank Agarwal. Rohit Sharma comes back in so I will pick him and Agarwal to open. KL Rahul fits that No. 3 spot. Then you've got Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ashwin, Shami, Siraj and Bumrah," Harmison said on his YouTube channel.

Iyer, making his Test debut played two crucial knocks in the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur. Iyer scored an important century in the first innings and an even more valuable fifty in the second, helping India take a sizeable lead. Similarly, Agarwal scored his fourth Test century and scored 150 in the first innings of the Mumbai Test, followed by a half-century in the second. Based on their performance, Harmison believes the two batters simply have to get a game for the South Africa Tests.

"That for me would be a formidable team going from India. There are runs in that team, there is definitely wickets in there on whatever surface you are going to play. And you reward people who are in a bit of form. Agarwal scored a 100 and fifty. Shreyas Iyer become the first player to score a 100 and fifty on debut. I think those 2 guys have got to play," added the former England quick.

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Thursday, January 20, 2022