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." 

Related items

  • England v India: Bairstow set for another chance as undercooked hosts face tough task England v India: Bairstow set for another chance as undercooked hosts face tough task

    Jonny Bairstow looks set to get a chance to revive his Test career on Wednesday – against the very opponents who looked to have ended it earlier this year.

    England batsman Bairstow recorded three ducks in four innings as Joe Root's side fell to a 3-1 series loss in India and the Yorkshireman did not feature in the home red-ball series against New Zealand in June.

    However, he is back in the fold for the five-match rubber against Virat Kohli's men, which begins at Trent Bridge, and a thigh injury to Ollie Pope looks to have created an opening in the middle order.

    Ben Stokes' absence as the star all-rounder takes time out to look after his mental health and allow an injured finger to heal means Bairstow's experience might win the day over Dan Lawrence when it comes to deciding who should bat at number five below Root.

    The lack of Stokes also means Bairstow and Lawrence could both play, although that would see Root restricted to a four-man bowling attack.

    A greater degree of firepower will probably be required against a fine India side, although the tourists' strength in all departments has served to undermine their preparations.

    Opener Mayank Agarwal will miss the opening Test with concussion after being struck on the head by a Mohammed Siraj bouncer in the nets.

    Shubman Gill is already absent with a shin injury and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane strongly suggested India would be loathe to move Cheteshwar Pujara up from his pivotal number three slot. It could mean Abhimanyu Easwaran stepping in to open despite not playing any first-class cricket for 15 months.

    Although far from an ideal scenario, the combination of a heavily loaded international schedule and the demands of quarantine and bio-secure bubbles means plenty of players – including much of England's brittle batting order – are heading into what should be an elite-level contest somewhat undercooked.

    England look to their Mr Dependable once more

    James Anderson's incredible career as the most prolific seam bowler in Test history looked to be reaching the end in 2019, when calf problems restricted him to just four overs in that year's Ashes series.

    Since then, he has claimed 42 wickets for England at 23, breaking through the 600-wicket barrier in the process. As pacemen Jofra Archer and Ollie Stone nurse their latest injuries, the 39-year-old Anderson remains as important to his country's prospects of success as ever.

    Preparation the key for Kohli

    Anderson resuming his duel with master batsman Kohli is once again sure to be a highlight of the series. The India captain has been in England with his squad for two months now, with the World Test Championship final defeat to New Zealand at least clearing the way for the sort of acclimatisation and preparation seldom enjoyed for away tours in the modern era.

    Kohli averages 35.63 in Tests in England, with two centuries and three centuries to his name in 11 matches. Although a perfectly respectable record, he would love to bring it closer to his returns in Australia – conditions that a haul of six centuries and four fifties (average 54.08) show he has unquestionably tamed.

  • Bangladesh end Australia losing streak with strong start to T20I series Bangladesh end Australia losing streak with strong start to T20I series

    Australia suffered their first T20I defeat to Bangladesh on Tuesday as Nasum Ahmed inspired the hosts to 23-run victory in the first game of the five-match series.

    Solid knocks from Mohammad Naim (30) and Shakib Al Hasan (36) set the tourists a target of 131 after they won the toss and elected to field.

    Mitchell Marsh continued his strong form from the tour of the West Indies with 45 from as many deliveries, but Nasum's 4-19, which included the wickets of Marsh and stand-in captain Matthew Wade (13), helped Bangladesh to a winning start in their bid for first back-to-back multi-game T20I series victories.

    Australia, who finished on 108 all out after Mitchell Starc fell on the final delivery, have now won only one of their past seven T20I matches.

    Shakib, bidding to become the first Bangladesh batsman to record 10 scores of 50 or more in T20I contests, got to within 14 runs of that milestone when he was skittled by Josh Hazlewood (3-24).

    Shamim Hossain managed just four runs before Starc's full delivery found leg stump, but Afif Hossain led a late charge, three fours taking him to 23 off 17 balls before falling to Starc in the final over.

    Australia's chase began in ignominious fashion as Mahedi Hasan's first delivery to Alex Carey smashed into the stumps. Josh Philippe and Moises Henriques then followed in quick succession, the latter succumbing to Shakib's opening ball.

    Wade and Marsh took some sting out of the Bangladesh attack, a stand of 38 ending when the Australia captain's sweep was caught by the grateful Mustafizur Rahman at short fine leg.

    Ashton Agar endured an embarrassing end to his knock, sticking a boot into his own stumps after scoring seven from 12 deliveries, as Australia's hopes diminished.

    Nasun leads the charge

    Bangladesh's total looked a realistic target for Australia, especially given their previous perfect record against these opponents.

    However, they simply did not look like mounting a challenge once the first three wickets fell for 11 runs as Bangladesh's bowlers, Nasun in particular, made sure the conditions worked in their favour.

    "It was outstanding, the hunger and energy was there," said captain Mahmudullah. "The bowlers executed their plans really well. You need to have an attacking mindset with the ball early on; that's what we did."

    Starc contrast

    Starc claimed the final two wickets of Bangladesh's innings to reach 50 in T20Is. He is the first Australian to register a half-century in this format and two clear of previous all-time leading wicket-taker Shane Watson.

    That had put Australia in a good position to chase down a relatively modest total, but Marsh was the only man to score 15 or more as they struggled badly against the spin attack on a challenging surface.

  • UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings against FA over Euro 2020 final UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings against FA over Euro 2020 final

    UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against England's Football Association following an investigation into the chaotic scenes that marred the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

    Last month, UEFA confirmed an investigation had been launched into "events involving supporters which occurred inside and around the stadium".

    An ethics and disciplinary inspector was appointed by UEFA to look into the events that took place around the 1-1 draw between England and Italy, who prevailed on penalties.

    And a brief statement released on Tuesday confirmed proceedings had been opened against the FA for a "potential violation of Article 16(2)(h) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations for a lack of order or discipline by its supporters".

    Damage was caused prior to the match as a number of supporters were seen clashing with security as they tried to enter the stadium in north London without tickets.

    The FA launched its own independent review into what it described as "disgraceful scenes".

    UEFA previously fined the FA €30,000 (£25,600) for three offences stemming from England's semi-final win over Denmark, which saw a laser pointer directed at Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel prior to a penalty for the hosts.

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.