IND vs SL: Ajinkya Rahane's bouncy road with the bat a huge concern

Updated: 23 November, 2017 14:12 IST | Ankur Dhawan | Nagpur

India in dire need of runs from inconsistent Ajinkya Rahane against Sri Lanka

The Kolkata Test was a tale of two contrasting performances fit equally into one dramatic Test for India. While they ticked most boxes by the time the light faded and Sri Lanka eked out a draw, Ajinkya Rahane's parched run with the bat remains a concern. In the first innings, he scratched about for 21 balls before a loose drive heralded his downfall. In the second essay, he was undone by a sharp in-swinger for a four-ball duck. In silos, the two sub-par performances wouldn't be a cause for alarm, but a closer look at his numbers actoss the last year suggest that India is in dire need of runs from their vice-captain.

India's Ajinkya Rahane walks back after being dismissed for four against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in Kolkata last week. Pic/AFP
India's Ajinkya Rahane walks back after being dismissed for four against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in Kolkata last week. Pic/AFP

In his last 12 Tests, Rahane has managed just three fifties and one hundred, with an average hovering in the early thirties. Furthermore, it isn't like the second innings in Kolkata, he has been the victim of a good ball early in his innings too many times. In fact, 13 of his last 20 innings have been double-digit scores, suggesting that he has tended to squander promising starts.

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India's problem with Rahane's form is twin-fold. He was India's second most successful batsman the last time the team was abroad. Now, with the cycle of overseas tours about to restart, India need him firing again. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Rahane occupies a crucial position in the batting line-up.

With India keen to play five bowlers, in order to give themselves the best possible chance to take 20 wickets, he effectively becomes the last recognised batsman. At No. 5, he acts like a bridge between the top order and the tail, and his expertise in shepherding the lower order is well documented. Besides, in tougher conditions, like what India encountered in Kolkata, the openers are usually in the firing line, leaving the middle-order, of which Rahane is an integral part, exposed. Therefore, Rahane needs some runs behind him against Sri Lanka, to confidently confront the greater challenges that inevitably await him in South Africa.

Ajinkya Rahane's average in the last 12 Test matches

First Published: 23 November, 2017 11:02 IST

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