Rahane delivers at the appropriate time: With scores of 13, 1, 23, 26 and 0 in the first three Test matches against England in the recently concluded home series, Ajinkya Rahane was dropped for the fourth and fifth Test matches on account of injury.
At the same Karun Nair made his debut in the third Test at Mohali. Though he did not have any significant outing in his first two games (4 and 13 runs) that he played, Nair’s batting prowess came to the fore in the fifth and final Test at M A Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.
Having bowled out England for 477 runs in the first innings, India went on to declare their reply, putting up 759 runs for the loss of 7 wickets, with excellent contributions from KL Rahul (199 runs) and Karun Nair, who posted an unbeaten 303* runs and also stitched together three century partnerships along the way.
Nair added 161 runs for the fourth wicket alongwith KL Rahul, 181 runs for the sixth wicket alongwith Ravichandran Ashwin(67) and 138 runs for the seventh wicket alongwith Ravindra Jadeja (51).
With this kind of a performance any player would have been ‘a definite’ in the Playing XI for many games to come.
However, playing in Ranji Trophy and representing Rest of India in the Irani Trophy, post the Test series against England, Nair failed to make any significant impact. Even in the domestic T20 games he remained ineffective.
Meanwhile, recovering from the injury, Rahane represented India A against England in the limited over practice game, preceding the ODI series and scored 91 runs. He also made significant contributions in the domestic T20 circuit in which scored 78 and 25 runs respectively in two games.
Having proved his match fitness, Rahane was selected in the squad to play the one-off Test against Bangladesh that is currently under way in Hyderabad. Nair also was selected in the squad.
As every follower of the game would have expected Nair to easily walk into the Playing XI, the Team management had different ideas as both, Kumble and Kohli made no secret of including Rahane in the Playing XI. Both of them have been heavily backing Rahane and eventually Rahane found himself in the Playing XI at the expense of Karun Nair.
Rarely would we see a ‘triple centurion’ in the previous international outing doing ‘drinks and towel’ service instead of wielding the bat.
As such there was a lot of pressure on Rahane to deliver. He had a huge responsibility to prove the selectors’ and team management, right. He had to play a long innings and also make it count.
Coming in at the fall of Vijay’s (108) wicket on Day 1, Rahane displayed great batting skills and at the end of Day 1 remained unbeaten on 45* runs. Skipper Kohli remained unbeaten on 111* runs and India had 356 runs for the loss of 3 wickets on the scoreboard.
Rahane notched up his 9th Test fifty off 73 balls with 5 hits to the fence.
Staying together with his skipper till India reached 456 runs in 113.3 overs, Rahane, surprised by the turn and bounce of a Taijul Islam delivery, played away from his body and ended up in giving a catch to Mehedi Hasan. It was a very tough catch and Hasan had to dive full length to his left to cling on to the ball.
Rahane made a very useful 82 runs facing 133 deliveries, aided by 11 fours at 61.65 strike rate. He narrowly missed what would have been his 9th Test century in 56 innings.
It is really good to see Rahane regain his form and remain a force to reckon with.