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Who will sit out when Kohli returns?

Kanpur, November 28

With Shreyas Iyer scoring a 100 and a 50 after coming in as a stop-gap arrangement for the resting Virat Kohli, a sword hangs over Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Batting coach Vikram Rathour ‘understands’ that the two could be living on borrowed time. But he did not give a definite answer as to who would sit out in order to accommodate Kohli in the next Test. With Iyer scoring 170 runs here, it would be criminal to drop him for the next Test, to be played in Mumbai from December 3.

Asked specifically about the lean patch of Rahane and Pujara, Rathour said: “Of course, you want the top-order to contribute but cricketers (Pujara and Rahane) you mentioned, they have played 80 (79 for Rahane) and 90 Tests (91 Test for Pujara)… Of course, to play that many games, they must have done well for us.”

Cheteshwar Pujara

This year, the Test averages for Rahane and Pujara are 19.57 and 30.42, respectively. How much leeway can be given to such players? Rathour said it can’t be quantified. “I don’t think you can put a number to that. It really depends on situation the team is in and what the team is required to do,” he said.

Asked who would be dropped for the Mumbai Test to accommodate Kohli, he said: “Captain coming back in, that will happen in next game and we will get to that point when we reach Mumbai.. We will get to that point when we get in Mumbai.”

But what about Iyer, he won’t be dropped? “Once we land in Mumbai, we will take that call, what our playing XI is going to be,” Rathour repeated, dodging the question.

One out of Pujara and Rahane is likely to be dropped, because the two juniors who could have been axed — Shubman Gill and Iyer — both scored runs on the tricky wicket here. Also, Mayank Agarwal (who made 13 and 17) seems a likely candidate to be dropped for Mumbai. In that case, who will open with Gill in Mumbai? — PTI

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