Ajinkya Rahane should have been selected for the tour to Zimbabwe: Team India will be embarking on a tour to Zimbabwe in the month of June 2016 for a series of three ODIs and two T20Is.
The squad is being led by none other than, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a veteran of 275 ODIs and 28 T20Is. While a younger player could have been selected to lead the team, the selectors have decided that the team would be safe under the stewardship of Dhoni.
While the squad consists mostly of youngsters like KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ambatti Rayudu, Rishi Dhawan, Axar Pate, Jasprit Bumrah, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jayadev Unadkat etc, it also includes quite a few uncapped players. However, it is really surprising not to find the name of Ajinkya Rahane.
If the performance in the ongoing IPL has been the yardstick for the selection, then Rahane should have definitely been in the squad.
Having played for Rising Pune Supergiants, in IPL 2016, under the captaincy of MS Dhoni, he featured in 14 games, remained unbeaten on 3 occasions and has scored 480 runs at an average of 43.63 with 74 runs as his personal best. He also has 6 half-centuries to his credit.
Rahane has also accumulated 2,195 runs in IPL tournaments from 2008 to 2015, playing for Rajasthan Royals, at an average of 30.91 with 103* as his individual best score.
Almost around the same time in 2015, Rahane led a young team to Zimbabwe for a series of three ODIs and two T20Is and returned home successfully, winning the ODI series 3-0 and drawing level 1-1 in the T20I series, when Dhoni had expressed his unwillingness to travel to Zimbabwe.
Dhoni also had, on earlier occasions, cast aspersions on Rahane’s approach to the limited version of the game, saying he (Rahane) played very slowly that suited the longer format of the game.
Even though Rahane was part of the squad that travelled to Bangladesh for the ODI and T20I series under Dhoni, post World Cup 2015, Rahane did not get an opportunity to play.
However, returning from the tour and playing in the IPL 2015 edition, Rahane amassed 540 runs from 14 innings (unbeaten on 2 occasions) at an average of 49.09 at a strike rate of 130.75 with 91* as his highest score.
Though clearly the numbers favour the selection of Rahane, BCCI selectors seemed to hold a different view. However, Rahane has been selected to tour West Indies for the Test series and has also been elevated to the position of Vice Captain, deputising for the skipper, Virat Kohli.