Ajinkya Rahane appears to be a straightforward replacement of injured Shikhar Dhawan for Friday’s fourth and final Test against Australia at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi.
While the top-order Mumbai batsman may well fancy his chances of getting a Test cap finally, it would be interesting to see where the Indian team think-tank accommodates Rahane. Will he open the innings or will Cheteshwar Pujara pair up with Murali Vijay like they did in the Mohali Test after Dhawan did not bat in the second dig.
The selectors on Tuesday added discarded opener Gautam Gambhir and middle-order batsman Suresh Raina to the squad for the final Test. Gambhir was later ruled out after being diagnosed with jaundice. Chief selector Sandeep Patil had in an interview to www.bcci.tv stated that Rahane was picked as a reserve batsman in the middle order.
Nayan Mongia, former India wicketkeeper, who scored a brilliant 152 as a makeshift opener against Australia at the Kotla in October 1996, reckoned Rahane should open the innings. “Rahane is the ideal choice as an opener. He is a genuine opening batsman. He has opened in the ODIs and T20Is. He used to open for Mumbai some time ago. He has done well as an opener so in all probability, Rahane should open the innings and Pujara bats at his No 3 position,” Mongia told MiD DAY from Baroda yesterday.
Rahane has been warming the bench since last three home Test series — New Zealand, England before Australia. “I would be shocked if Rahane is made to bat in the middle order. If he is being picked as a middle order batsman then the selection committee has goofed up big-time because there are many players who have done well as middle order batsmen in the domestic circuit. If the selectors are looking at Rahane as a middle order batsman, then he needs to prove his credentials by batting in the No 5 or No 6 positions,” Mongia said.
The Baroda man emphasised the importance of batting at a particular position. “It is very important to have a fixed batting position. You have to have a mindset and change your game plan according to your batting position. In my case (as an opener), I was told well in advance. So, I practiced and prepared accordingly. I was a stop-gap arrangement. “But when you have a genuine opener like Rahane, then he should open the innings. It would be a big blunder if he is made to play in the middle order,” he signed off.