Ajinkya Rahane may have had a dry run patch in his recent Test outings, but the Indian vice-captain is still one of India’s best middle-order batsmen. Adding to this is the experience he brings to the table. All said and done, although India has the bench strength with some solid options in KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli though will be keen to give Ajinkya Rahane another shot to prove his mettle.
While there are several youngsters in the squad, India’s middle-order boasts of the top three in Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane. However, none of the three batsmen are in the kind of nick that they’ve been known for. While Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t scored a Test fifty in his last seven innings, Virat Kohli has looked good in patches. Ajinkya Rahane on the other hand needs to get some runs under his belt before time runs out.
Ajinkya Rahane Is An Important Member Of Indian Batting Line-up: VVS Laxman
Since his match-winning century against Australia at Melbourne last year, Ajinkya Rahane has scored fifty only once in 13 innings. And the last time he played in England, Ajinkya Rahane managed two fifty-plus scores across 10 innings. It was in 2014 that Ajinkya Rahane made headlines, scoring a century at Lord’s, and former India batsman VVS Laxman has advice for India’s No. 5 Test batsman.
“Ajinkya Rahane is a very important member of this Indian batting line-up, especially in overseas conditions. I still remember the way he batted at Lord’s, in Melbourne and also the way he batted in South Africa was instrumental in India winning those Test matches,” Laxman said during a discussion on Star Sports.
Clearly, Ajinkya Rahane needs to produce his best this time around if India is to have a chance of breaking their barren run in England, something VVS Laxman is confident of.
“The one thing I feel that Ajinkya Rahane has to sort out is his game plan against short-pitched deliveries. We saw that in the series against New Zealand, we also saw that in the World Test Championship final,” the former India batsman added.
As India looks to register a Test series win in England after 14 years, a lot will depend on how their batting fares. Over the last three tours, especially in 2014 and 2018, India’s batting has struggled to cope against Duke’s ball in England, which subsequently led to outcomes such as a 1-3 loss in 2014 and a 1-4 defeat in 2018.
Cheteshwar Pujara Is Also Struggling
Since his magnificent tour of Australia in 2018/19, Cheteshewar Pujara hasn’t played the kind of big innings he has been known to play. He has gone 18 Tests without a century and is averaging 28 unlike his overall average of 46; the criticism around his strike rate continued to prevail. He averaged 20.38 in 2020 and 30.33 in 2021. VVS Laxman reckoned India need Cheteshwar Pujara to play the kind of role Rahul Dravid used to while batting at number 3 to provide a platform for batters coming in behind him.
He had a dismal outing in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) against New Zealand. He scored eight runs off 54 balls in the first innings and following that with 15 off 80 deliveries in the second innings. Cheteshwar Pujara last scored a century in the 2019 Sydney Test against Australia. In the 18 Tests he has played since then, the India No.3 has scored 841 runs at an underwhelming average of 28.03.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s strike rate is bothering him and India. In the last few series starting with the New Zealand tour in 2020, his strike rate was 28.49 (India vs New Zealand 2020), 29.2 (India vs Australia 2020/21), 40.06(India vs England 2021), and 17.16 (WTC Final). His career strike rate is 44.64 and his Test average is 46.08.