Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, two of India’s Test mainstays, have been going through a rough patch lately. The runs are difficult to come and their scoring rate, even lower. However, and for the first time after a series of numerous Test matches, the two senior pros spent a long time out in the middle during India’s second innings against England at Lord’s. How important was it for them? Aakash Chopra spells out the answer.
On Day 4 of the ongoing second Test, the two right-handers came together when India were reeling at 55/3. The two batsmen put on a 100-run stand before Pujara was undone by steep bounce from a good length delivery by Mark Wood. He edged the ball to Joe Root in the slip cordon on 45. Four overs later, Rahane, who batted extremely well for his 61, edged the ball to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler off Moeen Ali.
While analyzing India’s second innings on the penultimate day, Chopra lauded the resistance put up by both Pujara and Rahane and went on to say that it was a matter of “saving their careers”.
“Pujara and Rahane were together after lunch. It was a question of saving their careers. The sword was hanging over them. They came out shining like gold. They scored 49 runs in the session and did not lose a wicket,” said former India opener Chopra while speaking on a video uploaded on his YouTube channel.
More often than not in the recent past, Saurashtra’s Pujara has come under heavy scrutiny from pundits and experts for batting at a slow pace. However, cricketer-turned-commentator Chopra said that on this occasion, his resolute innings prevented India from folding on Day 4.
“Pujara played 206 balls and got out for 40-odd to an unplayable ball from Wood. But 206 balls, he has allowed the game to be dragged into the fifth day. I am delighted with the way he batted,” expressed Chopra.
As for Rahane, Chopra was happy about his innings except for the manner in which he conceded his wicket. He added:
“Rahane, on the other hand, was very very good. He was quite dominating against spin. He played the sweep, cut, and jumped down the track also to play shots. Eventually, he will be disappointed with the way he got out.”
Pujara and Rahane played a crucial role in India’s 151-run win over England at Lord’s. Mohammed Shami (56 no & 1/13 in 10 overs) and Jasprit Bumrah (34 & 3/33 in 15 overs) played innings of their lives and then rocked the England top-order, before Ishant Sharma (2/13 in 10 overs) and Mohammed Siraj (4/32) played their part to perfection to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
This was India’s third Test match win at Lord’s having won earlier in 1986 and 2014 series and they now have six points in the World Test Championship.