The Indian Vice-captain has been going through a rough patch of late. The middle order overall has performed below par, however, Kohli and Pujara have recently chipped in with a few 40s and 60s. Rahane has been struggling to get starts in his innings. At times when he does get his eye in, he fails to convert them into a solid daddy score. He has not had a century since his ton in late last year at MCG against Australia.
Post his heroic captaincy in Australia, he has played the home series against England where he had one substantial 67 in the second test. Post that, there were the solitary WTC finals where he got a well-made 48 in the first innings but could not convert it into a match-impacting inning.
With the ongoing England series, Rahane has looked extremely underconfident with his footwork and shot-making. He has been getting out in different ways which is a result of a lack of focus. Critics and fans have unanimously asked for his ouster from the team. We look at the top 5 reasons why this could be the last series of his career unless he has a miraculous change of form.
Rahane is today 33 years old. He has been a regular part of the team since 2013 and has thus been in the team for 8 years now. By this standard, he is one of the most experienced and senior players. He has toured SENA countries multiple times. However, his returns in the past few years have not conjured much confidence. His scores in India and abroad have been poor. Thus, the selectors will find it unfeasible to stick with him for long. This was what Murali Vijay faced too. Due to age not being on his side, he was replaced with youngsters like Shaw and Gill. The idea is to nurture new talent for the future.
2. String of bad performances
Ajinkya Rahane’s performance in the last 20 inns in Tests have been 0, 14, 10, 18, 61, 1, 5, 15, 49, 27, 7, 10, 67, 0, 1, 24, 37, 4, 22 and 27*. Being a senior player, he was expected to bolster the middle order. However, he has failed to consistently play the role of a stabilizer. He has not got starts or converted when he has got starts. Lack of big scores has been a concern too. With such low returns, his place in the team becomes untenable.
3. Strong bench strength
The Indian middle order has looked very fragile. Kohli and Pujji too have been unable to get centuries in the last two years. With all three in the middle order failing, it needs to be seen whether India has players to replace them. A look at India’s bench suggests that there is no dearth of talent. Rahul has come back into the team with blazing form. Assuming Gill comes back to the team and takes his position back, Rahul can be slotted back into the middle order. We have Mayank Aggarwal waiting in the wings to get a second go. He played in the middle order in Australia. There is also Suryakumar Yadav who could be extremely effective in the middle order.
4. Apparent lack of confidence
It is not that players do not go through a lean patch. The best players in the world have gone through a bad phase. The best performers in the current Indian team against England, namely Sharma and Rahul, were dropped due to bad form. However, with Rahane, it seems that his batting confidence has taken a strong hit. He has been demoted in the line-up for Jadeja to come up with the order. He would need to go back to domestic cricket, perform and get back his confidence to come back into the team. With age being against him, this looks difficult.