The middle order batting has been a bit of concern for India in Tests lately. The trio of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, considered by many the three pillars of India’s batting, hasn’t been able to burn up the charts like earlier, and that has had a ripple effect on the rest of the batting, especially the middle and lower order. The latest example is the second Test between India and England at Lord’s, where India, from a strong position of 276/3, were bowled out for 364, with Kohli scoring 42, Pujara 9 and Rahane 1.
While Kohli has looked the most assured of the three, it is Pujara and Rahane’s lack of runs which is a glaring concern, feels former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra. It’s been more than 10 innings that Pujara last scored a half-century, while Rahane, since his match-winning century at Melbourne against Australia last year, has notched up only two half-centuries in 16 innings.
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“It’s not like it’s been two or three matches. See, Virat Kohli has still hit a few half-centuries, getting into the 40s, but Pujara and Rahane are the real worrying signs, especially the manner in which they are getting out. They are senior players so it’s obvious that they know their game well. But in this case, it all comes down to temperament and how they come out of it,” Nehra said on the Sony Sports Network.
Nehra dissected Pujara and Rahane’s dismissals, saying that India’s No. 3 is constantly bothered by the line outside off-stump. As for Rahane, Nehra reckons that while he led brilliantly from the front at the MCG with a superlative century, the confidence of that innings has failed to reflect in the ones that followed.
“Against Pujara, the bowlers have come up with this plan that since he does not score too many runs, we will bowl wicket-to-wicket line to him to get him either bowled or LBW. In this innings, Anderson bowled the sixth-seventh stump line to him to get him out caught in the slips,” Nehra added.
“With Rahane, it’s that fourth and fifth stump line that he is getting out to. If you look at Australia, he scored a century at Melbourne, but given how he’s performed before and after that hundred, it doesn’t seem as if that innings had anything positive for him to gain.”