Is Rahane having a ‘tight rope walk: 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.
Recovering from injury, Rahane represented India A against England in the ‘limited overs’ 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. Karun Nair, who had registered his maiden Test century and converted the same to a triple in the Fifth and Final Test against England at Chennai, was also in the squad.
As any ardent follower of the game would have expected Nair to easily walk into the Playing XI, the Team management had different ideas. Both, Kumble and Kohli, made no secret of including Rahane in the Playing XI and had been heavily backing the Mumbai batsman, who eventually found himself in the Playing XI at the expense of Karun Nair.
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.
He 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.
This performance saw him walk into the Test squad for home series against the visiting Aussies for the Border-Gavasar Trophy.
The first Test match at Pune was a very big disaster for India as they lost the game in under three days’ time. Rahane had scored 13 and 18 runs respectively.
As every batsman failed to deliver in Pune, it would be gross injustice to blame Rahane alone for non-performance.
Looking into his failure against the English and the inconsistency in his performance maybe he is under scanner.
It all depends upon the team composition. While skipper Kohli has been advocating the ‘five-bowler’ theory, it remains to be seen whether there is a shift in such a thought process for the Second Test at Bengaluru.
Speaking to TOI, the chief coach, Anil Kumble, ruling out dropping Rahane for the Bengaluru Test, said, “He (Rahane) has been successful over the last couple of years. There is no question about it (dropping him).”
All said and done, Rahane would be under a close watch and his performance in Bengaluru could have a ‘telling impact’ on his being in the Playing XI.
Let it not be forgotten that a ‘triple centurion’ is warming the benches.