DK makes bold claim, predicts who could miss out on Kohli's return Photograph:( AFP )
Veteran Indian keeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik has made a bold claim and stated that one of the two senior batters can make way for Virat Kohli for the third and final Test.
Virat Kohli didn't walk out for the toss in the opening day of the second Test between India and South Africa at The Wanderers, Johannesburg. In his absence, KL Rahul is leading the side, who will also captain the Men in Blue in the upcoming three ODIs versus the Proteas.
In Kohli's absence, Rahul-led India won the toss and opted to bat first in Johannesburg on Monday (January 3). Barring Rahul's 50 and R Ashwin's 46, Indian batters didn't impress as they fell like nine pins and the visitors managed only a paltry 202 in 63.1 overs. The under-pressure senior pros Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane once again failed to impress as the duo managed only 3 runs among themselves. Pujara fell for 3 whereas Rahane returned with a golden duck. Hence, veteran Indian keeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik has made a bold claim and stated that one of the two -- among Rahane and Pujara -- can make way for Kohli for the third and final Test.
"At No. 3, in inarguably the world's best cricket team, to find a spot there for three years and not score a hundred - he (Pujara) will know he's got a long, long rope. To a large extent they are playing because of the potential they have, and the performances they have shown, and obviously, they are senior statesmen [in the team] as well. But the long rope they have been given is slowly burning out and you are coming to the end of it. I am very, very sure that they are both aware of it. Also, we have got to see the potential of the players at the back, they have done as well. Now if Virat Kohli returns, you get a feeling that one of the two has to give way," Karthik said on Cricbuzz.
For the unversed, Pujara's last Test ton came in early 2019 whereas Rahane has managed only a handful of half-centuries post his Melbourne Test hundred in the 2020/21 Boxing Day Test versus Australia.
Karthik further added, "When Rahul Dravid was at the fag end of his career, it was actually Pujara who came in and did well at that No. 3 spot, put pressure on him to eventually take his spot... Obviously, that circle comes around... I do think Rahul Dravid will have to make a couple of harsh decisions and if that means dropping one or both of them, he'll be open to it because he knows that they have been given a long rope before... You don't want to set the ground ablaze by making the big decisions right at the outset so I think he's waiting and trying to assess what he can contribute to their careers and if it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be."
With Pujara and Rahane not performing well, India have more options in the form of Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari (who is part of the J'burg Test). India's second innings in the penultimate Test will surely be a litmus test for Pujara and Rahane as they are running against time to hold onto their respective spots in the Test line-up.