Ajinkya's wait set to end
Mumbai (Agencies): The selectors' decision to bring back Suresh Raina from the wilderness into the squad for the fourth Test against Australia at the...
Mumbai (Agencies): The selectors' decision to bring back Suresh Raina from the wilderness into the squad for the fourth Test against Australia at the Kotla, starting on Friday, has baffled one and all. Simply because he is a middle-order batsman and India's middle-order is packed with a certain Ajinkya Rahane waiting in the wings to break into the pack. In 2002, the then Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly told Virender Sehwag in no uncertain terms that to break into the Test team, he needed to open. Sehwag then asked him "If I fail, will you still keep me in the team." Ganguly assured him that he would be persisted with. Sehwag went on to score a hundred in Nottingham and never looked back and went on to become one of the greatest opening batsmen in the history of the game. Ajinkya Rahane, who has been warming the benches for 16 Tests now, could take a leaf from Sehwag's book. The injury to the Man of the match in Mohali, Shikhar Dhawan, means in-form opening batsman Murali Vijay is right now without a partner. With India on the verge of a historic clean sweep against Australia and the opponents at an all time low, mentally and skill wise, there is no better time for Rahane to come in and express himself. Yes, the selectors have earmarked him as a middle-order batsman and Rahane too, it is learnt, has communicated to the selectors that he wants to be considered solely as a middle-order batsman. There is also talk within the team that Cheteshwar Pujara, who opened in the second innings in Mohali due to Dhawan's injury and also opened in the first Test against England at Ahmedabad, when India were chasing less than a hundred for victory and Gambhir had to suddenly leave due to a bereavement in the family, may be asked to do the job again. However, that would be terribly unfair on the Saurashtra batsman, as he has already made his mark at No. 3 with four hundreds. Two of those hundreds were 200-plus efforts and the other one was a 150-plus score. Why then should the team take Pujara out of his comfort zone? Rahane has opened for Mumbai with some degree of success and if he wants to make his mark as a Test player, he needs to show some hunger and ambition and tell the team that he is willing to open. Here, Dhoni's role becomes important too as he can coax the Mumbai batsman to take up the mantle for just one Test and assure him that even if he fails, he will be persisted with. Rahane's reluctance to open could stem from the fact that he really struggled against England and Pakistan in the ODIs and Steven Finn, in particular exposed a few chinks in his batting technique by getting him bowled through the gate in consecutive games. Those dismissals led to him losing his spot to Rohit Sharma for the last two ODIs.
28 Jan 2020 3:37 AM GMT