“India consider Ajinkya Rahane as too valuable an asset to lose. It’s high time that he realized that as well”
Ajinkya Rahane has an overall Test batting average of 31.05 this year—the lowest in a year since his debut—with 528 runs and four fifties to his name. Take those four fifties out of the equation and the average of 18.92 reads even poorer.
That sums up his struggle and inconsistent run of form of late. But if all of India’s three overseas victories this year are to be considered, records will show that Rahane has made telling contributions in each of them.
48 at Johannesburg in January, 81 at Trent Bridge in August and now 70 at Adelaide this month, all of these innings helped India to swing the momentum of the matches towards themselves, from a position where the match was equally poised for both the sides.
These three innings can’t mask the poor form India’s Vice-Captain has been in for the past one, or say two years, but what it shows us once again is his ability to take his team out of trouble and take them to a position of command.
He received a lot of flak for carelessly throwing his wicket away in the first innings of the first Test match against Australia, at Adelaide, that India went on to win today. He deserved that as it was completely irresponsible of him to play that kind of shot. He not only put his position in the team in jeopardy but also helped the hosts in strengthening their grip on the situation.
Also read: The revival of Rahane at Trent Bridge
But he came back to win hearts with his sublime innings of 70 in the second innings during which he stitched a match-defining partnership of 87 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara too.
The way he creamed a Mitchell Starc delivery over the covers for a boundary during the initial part of that innings brought memories of that old Rahane back. His footwork to Nathan Lyon seemed confident too and the way he caressed the pacers through various gaps in the field was extraordinary to watch.
Suddenly, the Rahane we were used to seeing two years ago, seemed to be back. Confidence, determination and solidity had replaced tentativeness, pusillanimity and shakiness once again.
The only thing that was ugly to watch was the way he got dismissed trying to reverse sweep Nathan Lyon during a period in which India were looking for quick runs. That was understandable but it was not a worthy conclusion to such a sublime innings. Nevertheless, that didn’t go on to have affect India’s chances of winning the match as the visitors ended up winning their first Test Down Under since 2008.
However, the problem is we have seen Rahane delivering the same flashes of brilliance on two previous occasions in Johannesburg and Trent Bridge this year. We thought he was returning back to form on each of those occasions, only to be proven wrong later.
His scores that followed after that stroke-filled innings of 48 off just 68 deliveries at Johannesburg read 10, 15, 2, 18 and 13 before he played that innings of 81 at Trent Bridge again.
The scores after that read 29, 11, 51, 0, 37, 41, 80, 13 before this very innings of 70 at Adelaide followed up. While this might look like a decent run with scores of 51 and 80 in it, those innings were nowhere near to the way in which a fluent Rahane would have approached otherwise.
The knock of 80 came against a depleted Windies side at Hyderabad and hence it reduces the importance of that innings significantly. On the other hand, he had mostly struggled during that innings of 51 which came off 159 deliveries against England at Southampton.
What Rahane needs to do now is to find his consistency back. His batting average which read 51.37 in his first 50 innings, reads just 41.40 now after 40 more outings. So, the decline in his numbers is clearly visible and only he can ensure that his performance curve only goes up from here onwards. Everyone wants to get that old Rahane back.
However, if he is finding it tough to bring his old self back, the best way to approach the coming time ahead would be to reinvent himself, because India consider him as too valuable an asset to lose. It’s high time that he realized that as well.