"You can't say 'let's drop Kohli'": Nehra addresses senior batters' Test struggles; names player who is 'at most risk'
- Former India bowler Ashish Nehra talked about the inconsistent performances from India's senior batters in Tests.
Ajinkya Rahane's prolonged struggles in Test cricket this year have been a cause of concern for Team India as the side prepares for the series in South Africa, which begins on December 26. The Indian middle-order batter has scored at a poor average of 19.57 in Tests this year, and recently lost his role as the vice-captain of the side.
In the recently-concluded Test series against New Zealand at home, Shreyas Iyer – who made his debut in the series – produced impressive performances at Rahane's position (no.5), making a strong case for his inclusion in the XI. Furthermore, Hanuma Vihari has also returned to the Test squad, adding to the competition for the number five spot.
While Rahane's position in the XI is widely speculated, former India bowler Ashish Nehra believes that it will be difficult for the batter to play the first Test in Centurion.
“It's difficult undoubtedly. There have been some injuries but you have to find a solution. If you solely go by stats, even Kohli has been inconsistent for the past 1-1.5 years and that is why I think you cannot just rely on numbers. You can't say 'let's drop Kohli'. Even Pujara has not been in good form. But yes, Rahane is probably at the most risk,” said Nehra on Cricbuzz.
“In the previous series against New Zealand, Rahane was the captain in the first Test. When Virat came in the second, Rahane wasn't in the XI. So, whether you opt to play with 5 batters or 6 in the first Test against South Africa, it is difficult for Rahane to find a spot.”
Nehra also addressed the absence of Rohit Sharma in the XI and insisted that Kohli and Pujara need to step up in the middle-order.
"It is not new for Kohli or Pujara. He treats challenges as opportunities. In the last tour, two of the three pitches were challenging in Jo'burg and Cape Town. If we get similarly challenging pitches this time, you hope that the two put out good performances.
“He wasn't in the team a few months ago. Now, he's the vice-captain. He is also experienced. In the lower-middle order, even as Hanuma Vihari or Shreyas Iyer don't have the experience in terms of number (of Tests played), but the way the game has moved on with three formats and the IPL, we can safely say that this is an experienced batting lineup. The only question is whether they will go with five batters or six.”