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‘Relying on Experienced Players Who’re Out of Form’: Ex-Pak Captain on Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt believes India’s batting strategy in South Africa was completely wrong. Butt slammed India’s five-batter approach, pointing out that three of the five hitters entered the series with reservations about their form. In all three Tests, India relied on Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, but the duox only achieved one fifty each.

Virat Kohli, the captain, was also under pressure after a lengthy drought of runs. He performed well scoring 161 runs in two Tests, but he was unable to end his century-less run. Additionally, according to Butt, relying on out-of-form Rahane and Pujara over in-form guys on seamer-friendly pitches was a strategy inviting trouble.

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India had the option of selecting in-form Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari over the seasoned duo but preferred to give Rahane and Pujara a longer rope. Butt reflected on that on his YouTube channel saying,

“India need to rethink their approach. Both form and experience matter. But what we saw in South Africa was that Rahane and Pujara were preferred over in-form players. On seamer-friendly pitches, you are relying on experienced players who are out of form. In addition, you are going in with only five specialist batters. Of the five, there were question marks on the form of at least three players. This was going to make life very difficult, which is exactly what we saw.”

The two centuries scored in the Test series came from the Indian team but according to Butt, there still seems an issue unaddressed with the middle order. He opined that when Rohit Sharma is in the squad and Kohli is in form, they bat so well that the shortcomings of the Indian batting are overshadowed.

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“When Rohit Sharma is in the team and when Kohli is in form, they bat so well that they dwarf the weaknesses of the Indian batting. However, here, Rohit was absent due to injury. Kohli is in decent form but is not getting big scores. There was thus greater responsibility on the other batters, but their response was not up to expected standards.”

The former Pakistan opener stated that, while the bowlers did a good job, most of them lacked venom owing to a lack of pace on a wicket that didn’t give much. He added that the Indian pacers extracted movement but suggested the use of speed as a weapon, which he reckons only Jasprit Bumrah did.

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