The year 2022 begins with another heartbreak for Team India as Kohli and his men lost the series against Proteas 2-1. Despite the visitors trumped South Africa in the 1st Test, the hosts stage an epic comeback at Wanderers and continued their good form in Cape Town.
Iyer-Vihari : Will Dravid and Kohli bank on them?
India has never won a Test series in the rainbow nation and once again the attempt to rewrite history turned out to be fruitless. Pundits ahead of the series mostly gave India the edge courtesy of their brilliant performances in Australia and England. Kohli and his troops were up against a young inexperienced South African team and were firm favorites to script history.
The biggest difference between the two teams was the batting performances. The Indian batters were a letdown in all the 3 Tests, except a few amazing knocks which however were not enough to ensure victory. Team India played with an experienced squad and thus their failure hurt the side’s chances to win.
The biggest setback had to be the poor form of Pujara and Rahane, once the most dependable batters of the unit turned out to be more like a burden for the side. Batting collapses took place in every inning of the 3-match series. And this trend is nothing new for the side. The middle-order has been more like a chink in the armor in the last few series.
‘PuRane’ trends in social media, the time for a change has come
Netizens have come up with the acronym of ‘PuRane’ for the duo – reflecting on how their string of poor performances has exposed the vulnerability of the otherwise mighty Indian side. The defeat in South Africa will not only be devastating in terms of the side’s morale but has also cost them a few points in the WTC points table. The team management thus will need to make a few necessary changes to be back on the track.
So will Pujara and Rahane be backed for the upcoming series? While Pujara’s batting average in 3 matches was 20.66, Rahane ended the series with an average of 22.66. India will next play a few home Test series – the best platform to groom a cricketer for the future.
Will the selectors take the tough call to drop the senior players, will Dravid and Kohli bank on players like Iyer and Vihari who despite decent knocks failed to find places in the XI? After recovering from his shin injury, will Shubman Gill be the new No.3 batter for Team India in Tests? Multiple questions are doing the rounds in the minds of both fans and experts. However, only the future will have the answer to these queries.
Pujara and Rahane : Once the pillars of Indian batting unit, now a liabilty?
The fact that Pujara and Rahane played all the 3 games ahead of the likes of Iyer and Vihari is clear. No matter how much the duo’s form has diminished of late, the team management backed their caliber and experience of overseas conditions. But the failure of this series will test the management’s decision-making.
Pujara and Rahane have represented the national side in 92 and 88 Tests respectively. The Jodi has gifted several match-defining knocks across the world. Their service to the Test team no doubt is quite immense. But for a team that aims to be the numero uno of Test cricket- it is important to adapt and grow at the same time.
Potential players who could strengthen the team need to be on the field and not just warm benches. This probably will be the biggest lesson for Coach Dravid and Captain Kohli from the Freedom Series. Unless and until the shortcomings are addressed, India will continue to face setbacks in upcoming tours as well.
Team India will next play a 3 match ODI series against Proteas and fight to redeem themselves in the limited-overs format.
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