Former India batsman VVS Laxman spoke about India’s issues in the middle-order ahead of the Test series against England. The two batsmen he focussed on were Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, both of whom have come under scrutiny recently.
Since his magnificent tour of Australia in 2018/19, Pujara hasn’t played the kind of big innings he has been known to play. He has gone 18 Tests without a century and is averaging 28; the criticism around his strike rate continued to prevail.
VVS Laxman reckoned India need Pujara to play the kind of role Rahul Dravid used to while batting at number 3 to provide a platform for batters coming in behind him.
“There is no doubt that Pujara will be mindful of the lean patch he is going through, as far as scoring those big fifties or scoring those hundreds and you expect a lot from Pujara at the No.3 position because that is a very important position along with both the openers,” VVS Laxman said while speaking with Star Sports.
“In 2002 and 2007, the reason behind our victories on those two tours was because our top order and our No.3 batsman, which was Rahul Dravid, they fired. Once the top order sets a very good foundation, it allows the middle-order batsmen to come and play their natural game and while doing that you post a very healthy total in the first innings and you are always dictating the terms,” he added.
Opposition bowlers to set him up with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries: VVS Laxman
VVS Laxman further highlighted that the vice-captain has had trouble dealing with the short balls. He suggests Ajinkya Rahane be judicious with his pull shots, and swaying away from those deliveries would be a good option for survival. Despite his reputation as an overseas specialist, Rahane doesn’t boast of a healthy record in England.
“Ajinkya Rahane is a very important member of this Indian batting lineup, especially in overseas conditions. I still remember the way he batted at Lord’s, in Melbourne and also the way he batted in South Africa was instrumental in India winning those Test matches,” he said,
“The one thing I feel that Ajinkya Rahane has to sort out is his game plan against short-pitched deliveries. We saw that in the series against New Zealand, we also saw that in the World Test Championship final.”
“It almost was the game plan of the opposition bowlers to set him up with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries and Ajinkya Rahane has got only one option, which is to play the pull shot but when you are playing at the highest level you should also know which ball to play the pull shot and which ball to let go,” VVS Laxman concluded.
Rahane’s participation in the first Test is not confirmed yet. He is recovering from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the three-day warm-up match earlier. The opening Test is scheduled for August 4th at Trent Bridge.