It's up to selectors to decide on Rahane, Pujara: Virat Kohli

Pujara and Rahane failed in five out of six knocks and haven't made any tangible contribution throughout the year
Last Updated 15 January 2022, 09:45 IST

India skipper Virat Kohli blamed poor batting for the crushing Test series loss against South Africa, saying it’s up to the selectors to decide on the future of under-fire duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara.

“The batting has let us down in the last two games when we needed to step up and there’s no running away from that,” said a forlorn Kohli at the post-match press conference on Friday. “I cannot sit here and talk about what’s gonna happen in the future. That’s not for me to sit here and discuss. You probably have to speak to the selectors, what’s in their mind. This is not my job.

“As I’ve said before, I will say again, we will continue to back Cheteshwar and Ajinkya because of the kind of players they are, what they have done in Test cricket for India over the years, playing crucial knocks in the second innings as well. These are the kind of performances we recognise as a team. What the selectors decide to do, I obviously will not comment sitting here.”

Barring the first innings of the first Test, the Indian batting came a cropper for the remaining part of the series which resulted in them losing 2-1. The totals posted by India in six innings were: 327, 174, 202, 266, 223 and 198. While vice-captain KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant shone with a century each, Pujara and Rahane yet again disappointed.

Kohli looked completely exasperated on Thursday when a DRS call went against them. When Dean Elgar earned a lifeline after Hawkeye predicted the ball would go over the stumps, Kohli, spinner R Ashwin and KL Rahul expressed their displeasure openly by speaking loudly and closer to the stump mic. Their behaviour was slammed by some former Indian cricketers, who felt it was unsportsmanlike conduct.

When asked for his thoughts on the issue, Kohli refused to comment. “I have no comment to make. We understood what happened on the field, the people on the outside don’t know, exact details of what goes on the field. For me trying to justify what we did on the field, saying we got carried away… If we had gotten charged up and picked up three wickets, it could have been the moment that changed the game. One moment seems very nice and exciting to make a controversy out of which obviously I’m not interested in. It’s just a moment that passed and we’ve moved on from it.”

Kohli, who will now be playing under Rahul in the ODI series that kicks off in Paarl on Wednesday, said he’s looking forward with excitement. Kohli was removed as the skipper of the ODI side and his successor Rohit Sharma out injured, Rahul was elevated to captaincy.

“I can talk from a player’s point of view because you are obviously driven and motivated playing any match for India. As an individual I can definitely say that I’m looking forward to the ODI series and I’m driven to perform. I don’t think anyone is going to take, whatever happened in this Test match, the second innings more so, to the ODI series. We did not get mauled, make no mistake. We were competitive throughout. Even the Test matches we lost, they had to really work hard and earn victory. We didn’t throw in the towel and gave victories away. If we can capitalise on those important moments, we have enough quality in our side to win matches consistently.”

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(Published 14 January 2022, 16:20 IST)

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