Former India cricketer turned veteran commentator Aakash Chopra believes Ajinkya Rahane is not going to be a part of Team India’s playing XI against South Africa, especially after his poor show. Rahane has been going through a rough patch in Test match cricket lately. While he is unable to score runs, he has looked uncomfortable in the middle too.
In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra said: “It is hypothetical of course, even the squad is yet to be picked. I am not sure about Rahane. I think there will be no place for him in the XI if Virat Kohli goes with the same combination – that is five batters, five bowlers plus a wicket-keeper in Pant.”
Aakash Chopra, however, feels that Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari should be preferred over Rahane in the middle order as well. Rahane has scored only 411 runs at an average of 19.57 in the 12 Tests this year. Moreover, Cheteshwar Pujara also faced rock bottoms. He has scored 686 runs at a below-par average of 29.82 in 13 Tests this year as well.
He added: “I cannot drop Shreyas Iyer now, I am even thinking about Hanuma Vihari. You had sent him to South Africa for this only and he has made runs also there. So play him as well if you want to play a sixth batter. I will choose performance and form over reputation at this point in time.”
He continued: “Cheteshwar Pujara – yes, in my opinion. He will retain his spot in the playing XI because he has scored recently at No.3, not too many but he has scored. He has been scoring runs if you see the last few Test matches. You can see the second innings at Lord’s, the second innings at Leeds, in fact if you see the second innings at Wankhede – he has started scoring runs. So I am still rooting for Cheteshwar Pujara. So it is tough for Rahane but Pujara will make it into the XI.”
Aakash Chopra also feels that the all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja might edge out veteran off-spinner R Ashwin for a place in Team India’s playing XI in South Africa.
“It’s a toughy, it’s a very very tough one – who will they want to pick? One spinner – Ashwin should play but Jadeja might end up playing, just because of the balance, not because Jadeja can give you more wickets than Ashwin. If you are going to go with five batters and Rishabh Pant at six, you will need a batter at No.7. Can Ashwin play at No.7 – he can but is it too high – maybe it is. Can Jaddu play – yes he can. Is it too high for him – maybe not,” the veteran again shared.
Aakash Chopra expressed: “So here Jadeja’s role becomes bigger. So you will play Jaddu, you will play Shardul and then three fast bowlers, who will be three proper fast bowlers – Siraj, Bumrah and Shami. Then you have got Shardul at eight and Jadeja at seven.”
“If only one spinner plays – Jaddu, as much as I really want Ashwin to play because between him and Jaddu, I feel Ashwin will pick up more wickets – this is no slight on Jadeja’s performance but you feel that in wicket-taking ability Ashwin will bring more to the table. That’s what I feel,” Aakash Chopra concluded.