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India vs New Zealand: Rahul Dravid could be catalyst for Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara – Dinesh Karthik

Pressure on Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara is only going to increase every time they don’t make a big score in the coming months with India set to play more red-ball cricket, veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik has said. Rahane and Pujara failed to go past 50 on Day 1 of India’s first Test against New Zealand.

While Rahane has not scored a century since December 2020, Pujara hasn’t scored a ton since he made 193 against Australia in January 2019. “They would be disappointed, no doubt. There has been this word out that they need to score hundreds because they haven’t in some time and with every match that pressure seems to increase,” Karthik said on Cricbuzz.

“Since Test matches were played sporadically, they have not been in the spotlight as often in the recent past. There has been a lot of white ball cricket recently so it has kind of gone under the radar but once Test cricket starts in full tilt again, they will come under the spotlight every time they don’t score runs. With every game the voices from outside will seem to get louder,” said Karthik.

Rahane, who is India’s captain for the first Test, fell after scoring 35 off 63 balls while Pujara, the vice-captain of the team in Kanpur, scored 26 in 88 balls. Rahane came in at No.4, which is usually the spot that Virat Kohli bats in but the latter has been rested for the first Test. Debutant Shreyas Iyer, who came in his place at No.5, ended up batting through the rest of the day and scoring 75 off 136 balls. India were in a shaky spot after the dismissals of Pujara and Rahane but Iyer’s 113-run stand with Jadeja, who was not out on 50 off 100 balls at the end of the day, put India in a commanding position.

Karthik said that Iyer’s performance might put Pujara and Rahane’s position in the team under question but head coach Rahul Dravid could help the pair.

“Now, Shreyas Iyer walks in at No.5 and scores a fifty. If he goes on to make a hundred and then does well in the next game, what are they going to do when they go to South Africa (for their upcoming tour starting December). Are they going to hold on to him or one of these two? These are the big questions that Rahul Dravid has to answer.

“Having said that, Rahul Dravid knows the value of someone like Pujara or Rahane. I think somewhere, the quality of Rahul Dravid will come out through these two batters because they have very similar methods and styles of play. So maybe, he feels that he can get the best out of them and he might act as the catalyst to get their Test careers propelling forward,” said Karthik.

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