Ajinkya Rahane is out-of-form, but has ex-selectors backing for South Africa tour
Former selectors More, Raju back out-of-form Rahane's selection for SA tour
Ajinkya Rahane received a major boost when the national selectors offered their complete backing to the struggling Mumbai batsman by selecting him for the South Africa Test tour which begins from January 5 in Cape Town. Going by his current form, vice-captain Rahane seems to be the weakest link in this Indian team that is otherwise firing from all quarters. In Rahane's selection, the MSK Prasad-headed selection panel have clearly given preference to his superior overseas Test record rather than take into account the lean patch that he is undergoing. While Rahane averages 34.45 in Tests on home soil, his average shoots to 53.44 on foreign soil. His away record boasts of six centuries and nine half centuries as compared to three tons and three fifties at home.
India’s Ajinkya Rahane on Day Four of the third Test against SL in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/AFP
Superior overseas record
Rahane has one century each in Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and at Lord's in England. In his last tour to South Africa in 2013, he smashed two half centuries. Former chairman of selectors Kiran More lauded Prasad & Co's decision to persist with Rahane for the SA tour. "He [Rahane] merited a place. There is no doubt about it. If I was the selector, I wouldn't have dropped him either. He is a quality player and thrives in conditions where it is difficult to score," More, who was part of the Indian team on the 1992-93 South Africa tour, told mid-day yesterday.
Former national selector Venkatapathy Raju too felt the South Africa tour would be the perfect launch pad for Rahane to bounce back to form. "I don't think we should judge Rahane on just one bad series. I firmly believe he should be on the South Africa tour. He deserved another chance. He may just start performing again as it happened to Virender Sehwag [when he made a comeback in the Indian team on the 2007 Australia tour]," Raju said before stressing on Rahane's team-centric attitude. "He is a complete team-man. He has batted for the team at different positions; he has been shuffled in the batting order a number of times. He has led the team well too," added Raju, who was also on that SA tour with More.
Rahane managed just 17 runs in three Tests against Sri Lanka on a platform that provided him ample opportunities to play a risk-free innings. In the first Test in Kolkata, Rahane was guilty of flashing his bat at an outside-off delivery in the first innings and was then trapped in the crease in the second dig. In the Nagpur Test, he failed to put a full toss away before dishing out a short, sliding delivery straight to point.
In the third Test, Rahane's desperation to connect the ball was evident as he chased a widish delivery from spinner Lakshan Sandakan only to be stumped. In the second stint yesterday, he was promoted to No. 3, but still failed to arrest his slide after falling for 10 - his first double digit score in the series.
Big runs ahead
More though is confident about Rahane bouncing back. "Everybody goes through this [bad form]. I am confident that Rahane will score heavily in South Africa. He is a strong character. Knowing the kind of person he is, he never misses any practice session and will work harder to score runs," he said.
17 No. of runs scored by Ajinkya Rahane in the ongoing three-match Test series v SL at an average of 3.40