Ajinkya Rahane – are the big and consistent runs around the corner?

Dependable. Batting mainstay. Calm. Patient. And, not to forget, the vice captain of his team, which isn’t some breaking news development. Is there any other adjective with which you’d want to describe Ajinkya Rahane, currently in England? 

Before he was involved in an utterly untimely run-out in the first inning, India’s bedrock of the lower order was looking fine at the wicket.

But seeming fine would instantly result into paying a fine of sorts, as Rahane would find himself run out for 5.

Not a massive score by any stretch of the imagination. Not a pleasant sight especially since the vice-captain would’ve been expected to consolidate the innings and put together a fine score since his captain perished without disturbing the scorers.

Even as another inning is yet to go underway and who knows what the changing vagaries of time may bring, there’s something, nonetheless, that the right-hander would want to bring to his game.

Not just some urgent runs for they are needed with neither Kohli or Pujara looking their usual selves, but the manner in which one’s grown accustomed of seeing Rahane score.

One who gathers – not necessarily fires – runs unfazed by the opponent or the situation as if smirks, rhetorics, verbal volleys have just no scope to breach his monk-like concentration.

A diligent batsman who works hard for his runs and can wane out bowlers without putting himself into the kind of pressure Pujara is unfortunately doing nowadays, Ajinkya Rahane needs to bring back the Ajinkya Rahane of the old.

The batsman whose Test-best of 188, circa 2016, rattled New Zealand and silenced critics who had questioned the presence of a bat in a team who’s more about patience and poise – enterprising stroke-making, not so much.

But forget scores like 188.

The vice captain of the team, one who seems tailor-made to suit five-day cricket, is producing underwhelming returns in the format for the past two years.

What if you were subjected to Cricket trivia and in all too sudden a manner:

Do you know what Ajinkya Rahane has managed in the last two calendar years, including 2021?

No need to rush to your favourite search engine; we’ve got it covered.

In the last 20 Test innings, Rahane has managed 1 century and 1 fifty. What stood out from his effort was the 112 made against Australia Down Under in Kohli’s absence.

A gritty and timely knock in 2020 that provided a face mask-like shield from the precariousness of facing Aussie quicks, hard to dislodge, tough to evade.

Moreover, that the only century in 12 Tests, thus far, came with him as captain went a long way in stitching together a career that seemed falling apart.

But as with every good and dependable batsman and his fan, who expects no less than another incredible run-making effort, since his 112, Rahane has produced a listless run.

So much so that from averaging 38 in 2020, which isn’t a mind boggling return for someone rated so highly, Rahane’s 2021 average has, believe it or not, nosedived to 21.

This year, from 12 innings – he has scored 263 runs.

Last year, where he played much fewer innings, 8, he produced 272 runs.

The bad news is – the fluency of run scoring cannot be found.

The good news is – a long series has just begun while 9 more innings are still left, provided England’s “difficult-to-please” rain gods comply.

Should Rahane somehow find a way to score heavily on turfs that aren’t exactly India’s strong point, going as far as making 300 odd runs, he’ll be within touching distance of a great landmark.

5000 international Test match runs. The ability is certainly there beyond a doubt. But is the steely resolve that once likened him to Dravid still there – we shall have to wait and see.

But above and beyond anything else, Rahane must realise it’s time to score lots of runs and not rest on the laurel of big match experience.

With a host of youngsters ever keen to break into the side – Ishan Kishan, Gill and Shaw, both of whom have already shown some mettle, and the likes of Shikhar Dhawan waiting on the sidelines – no one can take one’s spot for granted.

Not even the fascinating Rohit Sharma.

And certainly not the vice captain of one of the most powerful sides in world cricket.

That he’s probably never going to get a chance in white ball cricket unless a major string of injury stings the team, Rahane’s battlefield to redeem himself is the Test turf.

And it’s a testing one too in that time could be running out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: