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SA vs IND: “Ajinkya Rahane Not a Starter, to be Honest”- Gautam Gambhir

Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir claims that it will be difficult for Ajinkya Rahane to find his place in the playing XI for the first Test match against South Africa in the upcoming tour. Rahane is going through a lean patch for the past year as his batting average in 2021 has dipped below 20. The senior batter also lost his vice-captaincy in the red-ball cricket to Rohit Sharma recently and now is on the verge of losing his place in the Test side. In 2021, Rahane has scored just a couple of half-centuries with 411 in 12 matches at an underwhelming average of 19.57.

The rise of Shreyas Iyer after his debut Test series has put and added pressure on Rahane as the South Africa tour is going to be a crucial one for him.

Gambhir, who is very vocal about his cricketing views, feels Rahane is not a starter for South Africa tour after impressive performances from Iyer and Hanuma Vihari.

“Tough, that is what I can say because he is not a starter, to be honest. I feel Ajinkya Rahane will find it difficult to get a place in the playing XI,” Gambhir said on Star Sports.

“You have got Shreyas Iyer; it will be very difficult for India or the captain to drop him because of his recent performances. At the same time, Hanuma Vihari has done really well as well.”

Also Read | ‘You Will See The Same Virat Kohli, Whether Captain or Not’-Gautam Gambhir

Meanwhile, Team India will look to register their first-ever Test series win on the South African soil as the pressure will be on hosts this time who are going through a transitional phase.

Gambhir feels that India have picked a well-balanced squad despite not having any left-arm spinner.

“It’s a decent squad. It’s a reasonably well-balanced squad. Obviously, you don’t have a left-arm spinner. You have got two off-spinners plus six seamers. Obviously, the conditions will help the seamers plus you have got Ravichandran Ashwin, who is your No.1 spinner.”

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On the other hand, India’s former batting coach Sanjay Bangar feels India will need the experience of Rahane in South Africa.

“Ajinkya Rahane has got a place for the South Africa tour, and he should have got picked as well because you will definitely need experience there. Whether he gets to play in the first Test match is a question mark and the first match that is played before the Test match is going to be critical,” Bangar said.

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