Former Indian Cricketer, Sanjay Manjrekar has come out and expressed that he is backing Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane to do well when India plays the stern five-Test series in England during the upcoming full tour there. Both Vijay and Rahane may be going through their own issues with the bat right now but they have found support from the man who speaks his mind.
Manjrekar recently talked to Sportstar about the matter and said, "If you look at the previous overseas campaigns, the Indian batting looked good because Murali Vijay was in top form. Ajinkya Rahane was very consistent. These were the batsmen who delivered for India consistently on all the overseas tours. Rahane and Vijay are not the same players today. So, it is important that they get back to prime form. If they do, Virat will get some support, otherwise, batting will be an issue. (Shikhar) Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara have shown us that when it comes to overseas Test matches, they don’t make as much of an impact with the bat"
He further stressed on the need for India to disregard performances that are made in matches at home to actually prioritise the cricket that is played overseas. He said, "This Test match was actually not going to show us the areas we need to improve on or our strengths. This was not the kind of opposition that would help us look at those areas. Among all the Test matches that have been played so far, the last one in South Africa especially, tells us what is needed for the England tour. Performances in the sub-continent have to be disregarded when you are playing in places like Australia, England, New Zealand or South Africa because it is a completely different challenge. We know this from our past overseas experiences"
Manjrekar knows how difficult it will be for India but he is quietly optimistic.
"Let’s not forget, England lost to Pakistan three times in the last couple of trips. Pakistan won two Tests in the last tour and this time, they have won another one. At home, England is a very beatable side now. It is one of the only top teams that tends to lose at home. So, India has a very good chance. According to me, India’s only concern is its batting. It relies too much on Kohli of late on overseas tours and that issue needs to be addressed. But these observations are not for Asian or sub-continent conditions but for places like England, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa"
During the Test against Afghanistan, there was an on-air discussion between the commentators about the place of Ajinkya Rahane in the side that plays in England.
Sanjay made his views clear about it, by saying, "He should. He has to despite his current form. We have to look at players who have delivered in overseas conditions in the past, more understandingly. That’s where (K.L) Rahul has to be part of India’s plans and Rahane too. I can understand if players who have failed overseas are not given the long rope, but Rahane, Vijay, Rahul — who got a hundred in Australia — are the guys you should back. Virat, of course, is in a different league"
The department that inflicts confidence in Indian Test Cricket, for all conditions, these days, is not it's batting. Sanjay reiterated it and said, "In the last trip to South Africa, our bowling was quite impressive. There were occasions when Indian batting could have won games easily. That did not happen. So, I think bowling will be our strength. It was our strength in South Africa as well. With the emergence of (Jasprit) Bumrah as the strike bowler, it has become much stronger. Then, you have top class spinners and a great back-up like Kuldeep Yadav. Batting will need to stand up too. It can’t just be about one man, like in the 90s where (Sachin) was the only Indian batsman who would score runs consistently overseas"
(Inputs from Sportstar)