Former Test batman VVS Laxman has questioned India's inability to successfully combat New Zealand‘s bowlers during a recent two-nil series defeat.
India, who currently lead the 2019-2021 Test Championship and occupy first position in the International Cricket Council's rankings for Test teams, were thoroughly outplayed in Wellington and Christchurch.
“Virat Kohli was trapped leg before to the ball coming in twice in the second Test, Mayank Agarwal fell in similar fashion in both innings in Christchurch to Trent Boult's ins-wingers, Prithvi Shaw was cramped up and dismissed fending by balls following him in the second innings of both Tests,” Laxman wrote in a column for Times of India.
“I am sure the batting group would be hurting, especially, since they take a lot of pride in preparation but were caught napping by New Zealand's game plans for two Test matches in a row. I agree the conditions were tricky and challenging, but that's no reason why there shouldn't have been a greater application from the batsmen.
“Ajinkya Rahane's a tortured stint in the second innings in Christchurch best illustrated India's confusion. For an experienced and accomplished batsman who has scored runs all around the world, Rahane seemed all at sea against Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson's short-ball barrage, and tried to hit his way out of trouble. On that surface, it was a method never designed to succeed.”
Rahane averages over 42 in Test cricket, but collected a mere 91 runs across four innings against New Zealand. This tally included two single-figure failures in the series decider.
“Sometimes, I feel that he gets too defensive. The Ajinkya I know plays the best when he's positive and looking to score runs and attack. At times, he's defending balls which he can score off. He's giving the bowlers too much respect. He's hit 100s in the Indian Premier League, so he can do it,” added former Test opener Wasim Jaffer.
“Now that he's been labelled only as a Test player, been out of the India's limited-overs team, human nature is such that one wants to establish himself as a Test specialist. He's trying to prove a point.”
Rahane will play for the Delhi Capitals in the 2020 IPL. Delhi are priced at 7.00 by bet365 to win the IPL this year.