Mumbai: India captain Virat Kohli has thrown weight behind his deputy Ajinkya Rahane despite the latter’s dry run with the bat in Test format in recent times. Rahane missed the second and final Test against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium due to a hamstring niggle. In Rahane’s absence, the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Mayank Agarwal cashed in the opportunity and scored runs against the Black Caps in the two-match rubber. However, Kohli assured that will be no hurried calls will be taken based on external pressure. Addressing the media after India’s record win in the Mumbai Test, the skipper also promised that his team will support past performers and give respect where its due to the senior lot.Also Read - LIVE IND vs SA 3rd ODI Score: Ngidi Draws First Blood As KL Rahul Departs, Kohli-Dhawan Key For India
Rahane has averaged under 20 in 12 matches this year and his injury pull-out was judged by Indian media as a respectable way to drop him. He scored a century in the Boxing Day Test nearly a year ago. With scores of 35 and 4 in the first Test against New Zealand, the 33-year-old Rahane’s career average has now dipped below 40. At home, he averages 35.73. Also Read - India vs South Africa Live Streaming 3rd ODI in India: When and Where to Watch
“I can’t judge his (Rahane’s) form. No one can judge it. Only the individual knows what he’s going through,” Kohli said when asked about the Mumbaikar’s poor patch. Also Read - Important That One Of The Top-Order Batters Bats Through The Innings: Mithali Raj
For Kohli, it is important that Rahane, for all his good past record, feels secure and the team wouldn’t like to press the panic button just yet.
“We need to back them in these moments, especially when they have done well in the past. We don’t have this environment where we have our players asking ‘what happens now? That’s not how we do it in the side.”
Kohli feels that a team can’t react like outsiders, who will praise a player to the moon and back and then rip him apart within a couple of months after a string of low scores.
“We as players know what happens in the team and in our heads. There’s a lot going on outside and we can’t let those things affect the way we play. We support everybody in the side, Ajinkya or anyone.
“We don’t take decisions based on what happens outside,” Kohli made it clear.
The skipper predictably kept cards close to his chest when it came to divulging combination for the South Africa Tests starting December 26.
With the middle-order looking wobbly and both Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill performing well against New Zealand, some spots will be up for grabs and the skipper did indicate that some serious deliberations will happen in the coming days.
“Again that’s a discussion that needs to take place. Who we think are the specialists for certain positions and so on will be covered there. These aren’t things I can answer in a press conference, we need to sit down with it and come to collective decisions.
“That’s the same process we will follow. Everyone puts in their ideas and then we make our decision,” said Kohli.
But with Iyer, Mayank Agarwal, and Mohammed Siraj all performing well, it’s actually a good headache to have.
“Always good to know exactly what you want to do before heading to a series like South Africa,” he echoed coach Rahul Dravid’s sentiments.
‘X-Factor’ Siraj Doesn’t Bank on Conditions
On a track where New Zealand pacers Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson struggled, India pacer Mohammed Siraj literally spit fire during an early burst in the opposition’s first innings. Kohli said he wasn’t surprised.
“He has come a long way. He has a lot of skill and talent. The way he bowls and puts effort, you think he’s going to pick up wickets always. That’s a special thing to have when the pitches are tough and wickets are not falling,” Kohli said about the Indian pace attack’s new ‘X’ factor.
Siraj is actually turning into a bowler who isn’t dependant on the conditions. “He doesn’t really bank on conditions, he has a lot of skill and he banks on that instead. He can make important breakthroughs.
“See, even at the Lord’s, when the ball stopped swinging, he was making the ball move and gave us some crucial breakthroughs,” Kohli remembered.
“He’s in the best headspace as a bowler. Now, it’s about staying there and staying fit,” Kohli concluded.