Indian Skipper Virat Kohli redeemed himself in England as a master batsman in the 2018 series after his horror run in 2014. The current tour of England is an excellent opportunity for Kohli’s deputy Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara to assert their batting credentials and redeem themselves in the challenging English conditions.
Incidentally, both Rahane (29.26) and Pujara (29.41) have got almost identical averages with one hundred each in England after having toured there twice since 2014. The five-Test matches against the hosts England from July to September besides the high-voltage World Test Championship final(WTC) against New Zealand this month is undoubtedly going to be one of the stiffest challenges for two of the senior middle-order batsmen of the current Indian team.
At different times, both Rahane and Pujara have to go through an unfair comparison with the legend Rahul Dravid who set a unique benchmark for showing incredible assurance and plenty of runs in overseas conditions.
Test Careers of Rahane and Pujara:
Rahane like the proverbial hare embarked on his Test career in awesome fashion as the most impactful batsman on a difficult tour of South Africa in the 2013 series. He soared high with 8 tons in his first 32 matches which were played in his first three years of Test cricket.
From Wellington to Lord’s and from Melbourne to Kingston. A century was scored in Colombo as well while he missed a ton in Durban by four runs and in Fatullah (Bangladesh) by two runs. Undoubtedly, that was the golden phase of Rahane’s career where he even surpassed Kohli in away matches.
On the other hand, Pujara made his debut in 2010, and by 2015; he also played 32 matches in his first five years of international cricket. He scored 7 centuries but a majority of them were scored on the Indian pitches. Clearly, Rahane was a more accomplished batsman than Pujara until then.
Another aspect of Pujara’s batting that has provided him the distinct edge and has put him ahead of Rahane in Test cricket is his ability to score heavily at home. Rahane’s average in India is 36.47 whereas Pujara’s 56.31 is as good as anyone from India. Over the years, Pujara and Rahane have shared wonderful days on the field and memorable evenings off the field as they are great friends who have similar kinds of temperaments and demeanor.
Chasing Kohli for the pursuit of greatness can be a huge burden for anyone but emulating his contemporary teammate like Pujara could perhaps be the right way to reverse the clock for Rahane. Both the players are gearing up for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand on the 18th of June at Southampton.