KL Rahul backs Rahane for No 5 spot


IND vs SA 1st Test: KL Rahul backs Ajinkya Rahane – Despite struggles in the last one year, India’s newly-appointed vice-captain KL Rahul has backed Ajinkya Rahane. However, he refused to reveal whether he will be playing the Boxing Day Test against South Africa. He said, a final decision will be taken before the match. Follow India vs South Africa Test series on InsideSport.In.

Ajinkya Rahane’s competition is with Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari for the No 5 spot. While Cheteshwar Pujara is certain to play, it is the No 5 spot for which three batters are competing.

“It is a very very difficult decision. Ajinkya has played crucial knocks for India including the one in Melbourne or in Lord’s recently. He has been a key player for us. Shreyas has taken his chances. Hanuma has also done the same for us. We will have a chat about that today or tomorrow,” KL Rahul said.

Also Read: Virat Kohli vs BCCI: Ravi Shastri says, ‘Kohli has spoken, Sourav Ganguly needs to give his side’

Ajinkya Rahane’s dipping form 

  • Ajinkya Rahane is averaging 19.57 in his 12 matches in 2021
  • After slamming a scintillating hundred at the Boxing Day Test against Australia in 2020, Rahane has managed to hit only two fifties in 22 innings (Chennai and Lord’s)
  • During the same period, he has registered scores of 10 or less on 10 occasions
  • Apart from his 67 and 61 in Chennai and Lord’s, Rahane’s next best outings saw him score 49, 37 and 35.
  • In the last 5 years, the 33-year-old has averaged over 40 only in 2019
  • Rahane’s career average has reached a new low of 39.30

IND vs SA 1st Test: KL Rahul backs Ajinkya Rahane for No 5 spot but says, ‘Decision on Iyer, Vihari before match’

KL Rahul Press Conference Excerpts:

Talks regarding South Africa

We are slightly better prepared than the last time. Hopefully, Mayank and I will go off to a good start and give the team a good platform.

Centurion surface

The pace and bounce here are different than all other places in the country. That’s why we came here early and practised here with intensity. We had a great week of preparation. Hopefully, we will have a great season.

IND vs SA 1st Test: KL Rahul backs Ajinkya Rahane for No 5 spot but says, ‘Decision on Iyer, Vihari before match’

Playing shots in SA 

I haven’t played a lot of games in SA but my experience is that the pitches could be challenging. Here, the pitch could be spongy. That is the main difference compared to the fast and bouncy pitches of Australia.

Areas to focus on

I tried to play close to my body. That has been the preparation. My focus has been really to play tight and not give away wickets in the first 30-35 overs of the new ball.

Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer Ajinkya Rahane

It is a very very difficult decision. Ajinkya has played crucial knocks for India including the one in Melbourne or in Lord’s recently. He has been a key player for us. Shreyas has taken his chances. Hanuma has also done the same for us. We will have a chat about that today or tomorrow.

IND vs SA 1st Test: KL Rahul backs Ajinkya Rahane for No 5 spot but says, ‘Decision on Iyer, Vihari before match’

Centre wicket training

Duanne will know the conditions better than us. The last time we played, the wicket was slow to start with. The Centurion pitch has been that. We have prepared accordingly.

Every team wants to pick up 20 wickets and for that most teams have played 5 bowlers. We might as well play five.

How big is the series for India?

It’s a huge series for us as a team. We always take away series as a challenge. We have worked really hard on this. Winning in Australia and in England has given us good confidence.

The first match of the series is the most important and our focus has been on winning the match and give our best.

Any changes in batting due to vice-captaincy

I don’t think there has been any. There will be responsibility due to the vice-captaincy. One will play with more responsibility. Otherwise, I don’t think it will make any difference.

IND vs SA 1st Test: KL Rahul backs Ajinkya Rahane for No 5 spot but says, ‘Decision on Iyer, Vihari before match’

Carry forward England form

I never think about that. The only thing I can do is to prepare better and it is the case for everyone in the team. We have had good preparation. We have prepared the same way as we did in England. As I said new ball is very important and we have prepared accordingly.

Harbhajan Singh retirement

He is an inspiration for all. He was very supportive to the youngsters like me when we came to the team.

 

Also Read: IND vs SA LIVE: Virat Kohli takes special training session with Ishant Sharma ahead of Boxing Day Test – See Pics

IND vs SA 1st Test: KL Rahul backs Ajinkya Rahane for No 5 spot but says, ‘Decision on Iyer, Vihari before match’

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