Ajinkya Rahane: Cheteshwar Pujara didn't get stuck, was trying to score runs in first Test
Pujara had to face criticism for his slow tempo in the first Test in Wellington as he scored 22 runs from 123 balls. India went on to lose the match by ten wickets and it was their first defeat in the ongoing World Test Championship
Ahead of the second Test against New Zealand, India's vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Thursday threw his weight behind Cheteshwar Pujara and said that the number three batsman did not get stuck and was indeed trying to score runs in the first Test.
Pujara had to face criticism for his slow tempo in the first Test in Wellington as he scored 22 runs from 123 balls. India went on to lose the match by ten wickets and it was their first defeat in the ongoing World Test Championship.
"I thought personally New Zealand bowled very well in the first well. Pujara did not get stuck according to me. He was trying to score runs. All their bowlers did not bowl any loose deliveries. It can happen, any batsman can go through this phase. Everyone's game is completely different. As a team, we have to figure out how we actually play in the middle," Rahane told reporters ahead of the second Test of the two-match series.
"Whatever we got in Wellington, we got the same. India A played here. Hanuma told us that this wicket plays much better, there is a good pace and bounce on this wicket. The important thing would be to trust ourselves and not think about the first Test match. Sixty points would be at stake in the World Test Championship," he said.
Ravichandran Ashwin, went on to take three wickets in the first Test. However, he failed to leave an impression with the bat. As a result, it is being speculated that the team management could bring in Ravindra Jadeja to lend the side more balance.
Rahane also said that every Test match matters in World Test Championship and recognised the importance of securing 60 points in the upcoming second Test against the Kiwis.
"Staying in the present really matters. Every Test is crucial as WTC is going on. So if we win even one Test here, we will be far ahead as 60 points are at stake. We are playing here after a long time. It is important to understand what we feel as a unit," Rahane said.
"We have not made a decision yet. Ashwin bowled well looking at the conditions in Wellington. Jadeja is also a quality-bowler. It is a good sign that we have two quality players. The selection will depend on how the wicket looks tomorrow and what the captain and coach think," he added.
In the first Test, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami took just two wickets amongst themselves. However, Rahane said that it was just one game and the team management does not doubt the quality of both the pacers.
"Ishant bowled very well. Shami and Bumrah have been consistent. It was just this game. We have to adapt to the conditions, I am sure they will adapt. We do not have any doubts about Bumrah and Shami. If we bat first here, we have to play really well in the first session. Having a clear mind and intent will help us," Rahane said.
The second Test between India and New Zealand will be played from February 29-March 4 at Christchurch.
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