Rahane still India's most important Test batsman, says Kohli after humbling loss

By Sports Desk February 09, 2021

Virat Kohli bristled at the suggestion that Ajinkya Rahane's place in the India batting line-up could be in jeopardy following a heavy first Test defeat to England in Chennai.

Needing an improbable 420 to win, India resumed the final day on 39-1 but Jack Leach (4-76) continued his impressive record in fourth innings and James Anderson (3-17) produced a masterful display of reverse swing to dismiss the hosts for 192.

From the moment visiting skipper Joe Root embarked upon his mammoth first-innings 218, India found themselves in the unusual position of being comprehensively outplayed on home soil.

It left Root's opposite number, Kohli, to field some awkward questions - not least on Rahane, who managed a solitary run in the match and has a highest score of 37 in the seven knocks following his superb century at Melbourne in the Boxing Day Test.

That effort saw vice-captain Rahane leading a stunning comeback series win from the front in Australia. India triumphed 2-1 in a four-match rubber following a thrashing in the first Test, after which Kohli went home for the birth of his first child.

"Look, if you're trying to dig something out, you're not going to get anything because there's nothing," Kohli told reporters, seemingly aware how him agreeing to Rahane being under pressure might look in the context of his heroics versus Australia.

"I've said this many times in the past as well - along with Cheteshwar Pujara, he is our most important Test batsman and he is going to continue to be.

"We believe in his abilities, we have believed in his abilities for a long time now and he's an impact player.

"If you're talking about the MCG Test, he stood up and scored a hundred when the team wanted it the most. So, you can look at a number of innings and what happens from thereon, but the reality of the situation is they've won the series in Australia."

As such, Kohli is satisfied his players remain in good form overall and appears unlikely to make wholesale changes for the second Test, which starts back at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.

"There's absolutely no issues, everyone's playing really well and we just need to be focused a lot more, understand that Test victories are earned in any conditions - whether they're your own or you're playing away," Kohli added.

"Nothing is a given in Test cricket and we need to be aware of that reality and work together as a team to keep putting a lot of pressure on the opposition. That's our focus." 

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