Friday, July 3, 2015

Dropped on Sunday, Captain on Monday – The Curious Case of Ajinkya Rahane

“Life is really unpredictable”!! You completely feel down & out on one day and on another day you are suddenly on top.  Many of us have experienced this situation in our lives. The same thing has happened with Team India’s most technically gifted current batsman named Ajinkya Rahane. After being dropped for last two ODIs of recently concluded Bangladesh tour, Ajinkya Rahane has been named as Team India’s captain for the tour of Zimbabwe which will consist of 3 ODIS and 2 T20s. A major reason for his appointment is that most of the senior players have been rested along with the current ODI skipper MS Dhoni. “Team India” has been playing non-stop cricket since last 6 months so these senior players opted to rest for this series.

            Ajinkya Rahane has blossomed into a complete Test Match batsman since last year or so. He scored his first test ton at Basin Reserve, Wellington against the Kiwis in February 2014. It was followed by a magnificent Test Match winning century on a green top at Lords against England few months later. His knock of 147 against Australia at MCG in last December was a true masterpiece & provided him recognition all around the Cricketing Globe. With a batting average of close to 50, Ajinkya Rahane is now the backbone of Indian Test Match batting line up along with Virat Kohli.

            However, his ODI career has been a bit of enigma. Since making his ODI debut as an opening batsman in 2011 at Chester-le-Street in England, Ajinkya is still fighting for his spot in Indian ODI squad. With an average of 30.63 in ODIs, there is always pressure on Ajinkya when he bats in this format. With Rohit-Sharma & Shikhar Dhawan having cemented their opening slots, Ajinkya Rahane has been batting at No. 4 since last few months which included the recently concluded World Cup. Many former cricketers including Sourav Ganguly picked Ajinkya Rahane to be one of the success stories of India in World Cup. However, Ajinkya had an average World Cup by his high standards. Only saving grace was his knock of 79 runs against South Africa which was laden with 7 boundaries and 3 sixes.

            An interesting fact to note here is that Ajinkya Rahane made his ODI debut in September 2011 whereas he played his first Test Match in March 2013. His international T20 career has been on the same path as his ODI career. Although, Ajinkya Rahane has done remarkably well for his franchise Rajasthan Royals in IPL, he is not a regular fixture in Indian T20 squad. With T20 World Cup approaching early next year, Team India is scheduled to play a handful of T20 matches till next T20 World Cup. If given a chance it will be very interesting to see how Ajinkya Rahane performs in these games.

            So with Zimbabwe series starting next week it will be a special moment for Ajinkya Rahane when he will lead Team India at Harare on 10th of July 2015. However, he is just a stand-by captain for 3 ODIs and 2 T20s in Zimbabwe but this experience will help him immensely to develop his ODI & T20 game. After a poor series in Bangladesh, “Team India” is hoping for a turnaround in Zimbabwe. But beating Zimbabwe in their own backyard in the absence of star players like Dhoni, Virat, Rohit, Raina, Dhawan & Ashwin won’t be that easy for Team India. If Ajinkya Rahane leads India to victory in both ODI & T20 series, then it will be a huge confidence booster for him & Indian cricket team.

One good thing is that Ajinkya Rahane has always had support & confidence of senior cricketers & Coach. Although MS Dhoni dropped Rahane from Playing XI for last 2 ODIs in Bangladesh, he talks very highly about him when it comes to Test Match Cricket. India’s Test Match Captain Virat Kohli also rates Ajinkya Rahane very highly. Another thing that goes Ajinkya’s way is his fielding. For me he is the best Indian fielder & easily saves around 15 to 20 runs in an ODI match through his fielding. So Captain Rahane has a tough task in next couple of weeks of discovering himself as an efficient ODI & T20 Cricketer and leading India to victory against Zimbabwe after disappointing Bangladesh series.  

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