Stand-in India skipper Ajinkya Rahane on Wednesday confirmed that middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer will make his Test debut in the first Test of the two-match series against New Zealand on Thursday at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur.
Notably, Iyer was included in the Test squad after opener KL Rahul was ruled out of the series due to a muscle strain on left thigh.
“Shreyas is going to make his debut. Unfortunately, KL is injured and will not be a part of the Test matches. So, Shreyas will make his debut tomorrow,” Rahane said in the pre-match press conference.
Notably in first-class cricket, Iyer has amassed 4,592 runs from 54 games, averaging 52.18. He has also smashed 12 centuries and 23 half-centuries in the first-class format.
Meanwhile, Rahane refused to disclose the likely playing eleven of Team India. “We are not too sure about the combination. But in India you generally get spin-friendly wickets, the ball generally keeps slightly low and slow. We expect that but not too sure how the wicket will play. We will have to wait till tomorrow and then assess from there,” he expressed.
The stand-in skipper also noted that it was a big blow for Rahul to miss the series but expected that the youngsters would perform well in the absence of senior players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant.
“See, it is a big blow when we got to know that KL (Rahul) is injured and is not available for these two Test matches. He did really well in England. He was in good form and played really well in T20s. Obviously, we will miss him but we have guys who can fill that slot, guys who did well for us in the past with that experience. Not too worried about the opening slot,” Rahane said.
“We will miss all these three guys (Kohli, Sharma and Pant). But it is a good opportunity for all the youngsters to play. Whoever is getting an opportunity to bat, they will look to back themselves and play with freedom. Rahul bhai (Dravid, head coach) is backing each and every individual. This team is all about backing everyone and one another,” he added.
Commenting on his personal form, Rahane said: “There is no concern. My job is to contribute for the team. Contribution doesn’t mean you score a hundred in every match. 30-40-50-70 runs at a crucial moment is also an important contribution. I always think about the team. I have never thought where I am going or what will happen with me. I am grateful and it is an honour for me to lead the country.”
“Not too bothered about what can happen next. What happens in the future is not of concern to me. I am focusing only on how I can give my best at a given particular moment and will try for that only,” he added.
Further speaking on newly appointed coach Rahul Dravid, the skipper said: “Rahul bhai told us to back our game. Just keep it really simple, not to think and bother too much about it. For me and (Cheteshwar) Pujara, we know our gameplan as we have been playing for so many years. It’s all about keeping it simple and backing ourselves.”
“If we get set, try and convert into a big one. We are not too worried much. It’s all about keeping gameplan simple and back ourself,” he concluded.