‘We are very late in reacting’ – Saba Karim urges Team India to contemplate taking ‘harsh steps’ to solve middle-order woes

‘We are very late in reacting’ – Saba Karim urges Team India to contemplate taking ‘harsh steps’ to solve middle-order woes

Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara scored fifties in the second innings of the Johannesburg Test, but have blown hot and cold in recent times.

Saba Karim
Saba Karim. (Photo by Raajessh Kashyap/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Former Indian wicketkeeper-batter Saba Karim wasn’t quite convinced with the Indian middle order struggling for a long time now with an odd performance here and there. Skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Rahul Dravid have already felt the need for backing the senior players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the ongoing Test series against South Africa.

The experienced duo repaid the faith to an extent with quickfire fifties on a tough pitch at the Wanderers in the second innings. However, their woes have been continuing for a long time now as both batters have averaged just in the mid-20s in the last two years. They have played some important innings in terms of tough runs but they have failed to churn out big knocks on a consistent basis.

Pujara hasn’t scored a century for the last three years, while his skipper Kohli hasn’t, as well, for the last two years. Despite the indifferent shows, India’s record in overseas conditions has been exceptional as they have been able to string together important victories.

It is important to address the issue, feels Saba Karim

Karim, in a podcast, mentioned that India will have to make some hard decisions after inconsistent performance by the middle order batters. He doubted if the team is looking forward to making the finals of the World Test Championship and wanted them to analyse the need of the hour. Rahane’s scores in the South Africa series have been 48, 20, 0 and 58 while Pujara has struggled with 0, 16, 3 and 53.

“I believe we are very late in reacting to the fact that our middle-order, which is considered a backbone in the batting lineup, has been struggling for years now. It is important to address as soon as possible. You have so much experience, you can easily score 40-50 runs after every 3-4 innings but does that mean we are moving in the right direction?” Karim told on the Khelneeti podcast

Hanuma Vihari has played well in the limited opportunities he has had for India and he showed brilliant technique on the Wanderers pitch in the second innings with an unbeaten 40. Shreyas Iyer has also been knocking on the doors after a century on debut against New Zealand and he is seen as the future of the side. The Indian management, despite all the surrounding saga, is very much convinced about the quality of the senior batters in Rahane and Pujara.

“We have to prepare for the new Test cycle. We have to qualify for the finals. Do you need to take those harsh steps if you want to reach there? This is what Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, and the selectors. (They need to decide) whether the batting order with which we are playing is giving us the full value or not, can we bring some youngsters in their place who has good experience in domestic cricket, will he add more value or not.

“Whether it is Rahane or Pujara, they will score runs sometimes because they obviously have experience. But we need to think if they are doing enough and whether any other player can deliver better than them,” Karim added