‘You can’t say let’s drop Kohli’: Ashish Nehra on Pujara, Rahane’s struggles ahead of South Africa series

Former India pacer Ashish Nehra recently gave his take on Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara’s struggles ahead of India’s Test series against South Africa. While Rahane’s inconsistency has been a huge concern for India, Pujara’s form has also dipped over the last couple of years. With intense competition for spots in the playing XI, there remains uncertainty over Rahane and Pujara’s places in the playing XI ahead of the first Test against South Africa.

While Shreyas Iyer is in the reckoning after his fantastic debut in the recently-concluded Test series against New Zealand at home, Hanuma Vihari is also in contention to find a spot in the middle-order. While Nehra believes the senior Indian batters should be backed, he insisted Rahane will find it difficult to get into the XI.

While backing the senior batters to return to form, Nehra cited the example of captain Virat Kohli, who hasn’t been at his best for a while now and said the team management can’t drop Kohi just because of his rough patch.

“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.

Rahane was India’s stand-in captain for the first Test against New Zealand in Kohli’s absence in their last series at home. However, he was replaced by Rohit Sharma as the vice-captain of the Test team ahead of the South Africa series due to his poor form. Nehra feels Rahane’s chances will also depend on whether India decide to play an extra batter or not in the Boxing Day Test.

“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,” said the former India pacer.

Also Read: Explained! Why series-opener between India-South Africa will be called Boxing Day Test?

The track in Centurion is expected to be on the greener side and assist pacers in the series-opener that gets underway from December 26 (Sunday). It remains to be seen if India will be cautious in their approach and go with an extra batter or play just four frontline bowlers.

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