India vs England: 'You cannot judge a player over 4-6 innings,' Rahane backs Rohit ahead of 2nd Test
India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has backed Rohit Sharma, who has been on the receiving end of major criticism following his poor show in the first Test.
Rohit managed scores of 6 and 12 in the first Test against England, which Team India lost by 227 runs at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai.
Ahead of the second Test against England, which is set to begin on Saturday at the same Chennai venue, Rahane said that one or two bad games cannot define Rohit's importance before adding that his fellow Mumbai batsman can score big runs once he is set.
"Rohit (Sharma) is an important member of our team. A big score doesn't imply that you have to score a century or 150. He made important contributions in Australia. You can't judge a player over 4-6 innings or one or two matches. You need to back your players and Rohit is the kind of cricketer who has won matches for India. We know when Rohit gets set he scores big. We're really happy to have Rohit in the team," Rahane said during a virtual press conference on Friday.
Pujara scored 73 and 15 in the first Test against England. Several former cricketers, including Ricky Ponting, have questioned Pujara's slow approach, especially during India's tour of Australia 2020-21. Pujara finished as India's second leading run-scorer with 271 runs at an average of 33.88. Rahane, who led India in the absence of Virat Kohli in the last three Tests Down Under, has come in Pujara's defense, saying the No. 3 batsman knows his role and game.
"No one questioned his approach (slow) about his batting in the team and that's what matters. What people talk outside doesn't matter to us. We know Pujara's role and how crucial he is for our team and we are really happy with the way he played in Australia and the way he is playing right now. His role very important for us and we back him completely on how he wants to play. He knows his game really well. he has played 80 odd Test matches. No one questioned his ability or how he played in Australia," added Rahane in the same press conference.
It was earlier reported that India's left-arm spinner Axar Patel had regained full fitness and could replace Shahbaz Nadeem for the second Test.
"Everyone is in the mix, the good thing is Axar is fit to play. See all our spinners are really good and if given a chance I'm sure they will do really well," said Rahane.
The 227-run victory in the first Test has kept England alive in the 2019-21 World Test Championship (WTC). New Zealand have already qualified for the final, which is due to be played in June at Lord's. England have to win a minimum of three Tests in their ongoing four-match Test series in India to make it to the grand finale of the nine-team competition.