India vs England: Ajinkya Rahane is seen as a threat and not an asset, says Sunil Gavaskar | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: After losing the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand at the start of this England tour, captain Virat Kohli had suggested that there was a need to bring in ‘the right people with the right mindset’ and that the Test team needed to be rebuilt soon. Two days ahead of the first Test against England, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar spoke to TOI on the issue of transition.
What do you make of Kohli’s view that the team is looking at a transition soon?
If you are saying that you are going to overhaul the team in the middle of the tour, then it’s tough. But talking about transition sometimes is good motivation. If you say you are looking at transition, there may be certain players who are willing to try harder to ensure they are not part of the transition where they are left out.
Pujara and Rahane seem to be facing the heat. Is there anything they need to do differently?
It’s unfair on these two players. They have put their bodies and hearts on the line for Indian cricket for years and particularly the last six months. In my view, a whispering campaign has been started against Rahane and Pujara. Tell me who else has scored consistently in the last six-eight months. The real target is Rahane. Pujara’s name has been bandied about just to make sure that this whisper campaign is not thought as if it is only directed at Rahane. I would tell all these people to think Rahane as an asset and not a threat. It’s happening the other way around. You know what I mean by that. He is not a threat for those who have started this campaign. He scored a hundred right after India were all out for 36 (in Australia). He gave the momentum at Gabba chase as well. He got a half-century on pitches where the ball was turning in India against England. In WTC final, he was our top scorer. Suddenly, questions are raised on these two. What is the aim behind this is what is needed to be looked at.
There’s been a lot of talk about scoring rates…
In a match that lasts five days, the only thing that matters is the winning team has scored one run more than the losing team. It doesn’t matter at what rate the runs come. We have matches finishing in three days and there are matches which have no results after five days. Scoring rate depends on what the situation is. If you have a huge total on board then you may ask the batsmen to up the ante.
The Indian team has harped on the need to keep scoring in tough conditions…
You got to play the bowling, not the bowler. When conditions are overcast, damp and swinging, then you have to give yourself that much more time in the middle. I am yet to see anybody consistently hitting out of trouble. A player has made it to the international level playing a certain way. That’s the best way he knows. You tell him to do something he doesn’t know, it’s a recipe for disaster. You have to believe in the guy’s methods.
What do you make of the balance of the team when Hardik Pandya’s not around?
Hardik’s been invaluable when he was bowling. But it should not be that till he starts bowling, you shouldn’t look at anybody else. The eyes need to be opened. I am sure you will be able to find some seam-bowling allrounders. You can groom someone like Deepak Chahar. We should have groomed Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He would never have been as destructive a batsman as Hardik but at Test match level you need to play a holding innings.

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