The sight of Ajinkya Rahane walking back to the pavilion in the final innings of the India vs Sri Lanka test series must be disappointing to all Indian fans. He was expected to be delivered there. Getting some bat to ball, stay there as long as he can is what was needed from him. Moreover his captain, Virat Kohli needed Rahane to be in the form before they pack their bags to South Africa.
That’s why he was sent early even before Pujara and Captain Kohli himself in the last test between India and Sri Lanka. Now when the scene turns to Cape Town, the attention towards Rahane grows only higher. It must be unfortunate for the talented Rahane to be in this mire now, especially before the looming overseas test season.
Should Ajinkya Rahane be picked in the playing XI for the First Test against South Africa?
Before answering that it is a must to address something about Rahane’s place in the team and his away stats. Ajinkya Rahane has always been the bizarre performer when it comes to the playing conditions.
Unlike other Indian Test batsmen, he never enjoyed playing on the Indian pitches, where the ball keeps relatively low. He has mostly been the player much suited for overseas conditions.
–> 6 out of 9 Test centuries of Ajinkya Rahane came outside India.
–> 4 outside Asia – one each in Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and England; 96 in Durban.
–> 2 out of 3 home centuries came against South Africa.
Convinced enough? If no, keep reading
Ajinkya Rahane batting Stats in test matches at home and away conditions:
So what makes Rahane a natural overseas player?
Technically speaking, Ajinkya Rahane is more of a back foot player and that helps him handle the short balls much easier than the ones which stay low. His rapid hands and the text book perfection makes Rahane an asset in the Indian team when they travel abroad. His understanding of the pitch and his instincts are all good too.
He is a player filled with the cricketing shots that could surpise any bowler with boundaries off some unplayable deliveries, and interestingly he will make them look much easy. And that is what he is made of.
Adding to his instinct, his nature of fighting back is an additional asset as he always wants to perform when the team needs him to. And that is why ‘The Wall’ Rahul Dravid wants Rahane to bat at no.5 in tests. Dravid felt Rahane could play the role of VVS Laxman in the current Indian team with his fluent stroke making and the ability to play with the tail.
His century in England at Lords in 2014 helped India to settle with a 1st innings score of 295 all-out from a stage of 145 for 7. India went on to win that game, also with the help of Ishant Sharma’s 7-for in the 2nd innings.
India’s Slip Conundrum
The recent evidence of India’s problem comes with the face of missing slip catches. Not by one but every player who was tried there.
So far, Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane are the ones who have done reasonably well in that position. With the increase in average speed of the Indian pacers, India should focus more into this.
Rahane must be feeling bad and regretting his bad phase so far. But it is time for him to find his form back, especially around this looming overseas tours.
I believe as it is more evident that Rahane got his back and support from the team management which he needs at this point. His captain also needs him to perform as he knows how big the role Rahane is going to play in his captaincy stint when they travel more.
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