Millennium Post

With Iyer, Gill scoring runs, pressure mounts on Pujara-Rahane duo ahead of SA tour

Kanpur: Time is running out for Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane after another failure and this time, in reasonably conducive home conditions against an attack which wasn't half as threatening as Australia and England.

Both Pujara and Rahane squandered decent starts on a day when the willows of debutant Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill produced half centuries against New Zealand in the opening Test here.

And the failure was against an attack which did not have the immensely talented and crafty Trent Boult, whose banana inswing in early morning moisture makes life difficult for batters.

Iyer's arrival with a bang in Test match scenario and Gill being back among runs, albeit as an opener, would certainly set alarm bells ringing for the captain (Rahane) and vice-captain (Pujara) in this Test match.

The Indian squad for the South Africa series will be announced in some days and even if the seasoned duo board that flight to Johannesburg, captain Virat Kohli, head coach Rahul Dravid and white-ball captain Rohit Sharma, who is an integral part of red ball think-tank will have to take an enormous leap of faith to give them a whole series in the Rainbow Nation. Before KL Rahul got injured, Gill was being considered as a middle-order enforcer, an option they want to check out in long-term.

He played as an opener but Gill's highest overseas first-class score on foreign soil is 204 batting at No.5 in the West Indies, when he was there with the A team. He is a youngster and would be ready to take on any role that the team wants. And Iyer has also passed his first Test with flying colours.

Yes, the track at Bull Ring, Kingsmead or Newlands won't be a patch on Green Park but what Dravid and Kohli would have wanted to check out was how he reacts to a situation where there has been a middle-order collapse. AGENCIES

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