Long rope extends till SA
The Indian Express Delhi|December 03, 2021
Irrespective of playing XI for Mumbai Test, both Pujara and Rahane set to travel to Rainbow Nation
ABHISHEK PUROHIT

A HOME Test series is on the line, against the world Test champions, heading into the last match for the first time in nearly five years. There is some pandemic-forced uncertainty surrounding the big tour coming up later in the month. But who will sit out for Virat Kohli in the Mumbai Test match has been the burning question for days now, the sub-text being that one of the two senior batters in the middle order should make way for the returning captain.

It follows then, for many, that if you are not good enough to make the XI for a home Test, you cannot possibly be taken a week or two later to South Africa of all places.

A quick relook at why the clamour has only grown: Cheteshwar Pujara averages 20.37 and 30.42 in 2020 and 2021, Ajinkya Rahane's tallied 19.57 runs per innings in 12 Tests this year. Both veterans couldn't make strong cases in the Kanpur Test for being afforded some more leeway; Pujara made 26 and 22, stand-in captain Rahane managed 35 and 4.

There are two ways of looking at this admittedly tricky situation for the new team management of skipper Kohli and coach Rahul Dravid, which will make its debut at the Wankhede Stadium today (in his first series as full-time India coach, Dravid will already be working with a third captain in less than three weeks, how's that for variety).

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