Ajinkya Rahane’s Call up to the squad for WTC final is a result of effort that’s largely gone unsung!
Ajinkya Rahane has played 192 international matches, including 82 Tests. He has got runs in the toughest of conditions, against the best Team
The last that Ajinkya Rahane featured in a Test match for India was back in January, 2021. While mathematically speaking, it was nearly about a year and a half back in time.
But factually speaking, it was so further in time that last when Rahane batted in a Test for India, Shreyas Iyer hadn’t even made his Test debut for the side, Shubman Gill hadn’t yet become a mainstream feature in Test match cricket and what’s more?
Rishab Pant was nowhere close to being injured nor was he nursing an injury that would see him out from national contention for long.
Not that his most recent Test appearance for India was any rewarding; Rahane was a sight of pure disappointment with the bat with scores of 9 and 1 coming against South Africa in the Test match that India would go on to lose thanks to Keegan Petersen’s brilliance.
But this was no random occurrence with the bat for one of the most experienced Test cricketers for India; after a series of disappointing outcomes with the bat that saw the technically correct right hander faltering away to many a low score, the big decision came on his shoulders.
The axe had fallen. And the drop became inevitable.
No longer would one go on to see Ajinkya Rahane, it was thought, in the side to which he once seemingly belonged akin to a fish to a freshwater lake.
It was done. He had nothing more to offer. Except this wasn’t going to be the inconvenient truth.
One of the most under appreciated sporting headlines from the world of Indian cricket occurred last year in December of 2022, just towards the end of the year.
The veteran of Indian cricket would smack a glorious double century for Mumbai (2022-2023 edition) against Hyderabad.
A knock of 204 off 261 deliveries that featured no fewer than 26 boundaries and 3 huge sixes left an indelible mark on the minds of those in whose responsible shoulders rest the huge task of calling the right shots for India in selecting the national sides across formats.
While on his part, Rahane left little to the imagination with the bat, one felt that greater attention came to the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Sarfaraz Khan, both of whom had scored fantastic centuries.
But, on the whole, one sort of even forgot that Ajinkya Rahane had a cracker of a tournament. That is when he had compiled no fewer than 634 runs with the bat scoring fifties for fun and apparently, making batting look relatively easy. Though, his Mumbai side could not make it to the knockouts, Rahane’s imperious batting average of 57 was just top of the line good news for a bloke who was seriously in search of a second new coming in international cricket.
But a question remained. And largely unanswered so!
Was that all or was there something more coming from the bat of one of the most mild mannered men from the Indian cricket contingent?
Apparently, there arrived the injuries to Rishab Pant and Shreyas Iyer, two seriously talented batters who since Rahane’s loss of form in Test cricket, had made their respective spots in the national side.
And now, as seen in the Indian Premier League’s 2023 edition, the Ajinkya Rahane that we are seeing is a different animal altogether.
He’s been majestic. He has been quite the revelation from the CSK’s stable.
Unafraid to take his chances with the bat and batting with the enthusiasm of a teenager who’s out there to capture his chances, Ajinkya Rahane is scoring dollops of runs.
His strike rate, his detractors who still can’t fathom why he’s earned the recall in the squad for the World Test Championship final versus Australia, is 199.
Would anyone who was witness to his listless batting in the summers of 2021 have believed that a new looking Ajinkya Rahane reinvigorated by the desire to score freely achieve such a feat?
And while to many it may just be happenstance that Rahane has found a newfound chance in the wake of the endless string of injuries the rest are coping with, it’s nonetheless a brand new beginning.
Now that he’s made it to the squad, one will expect Rahane to feature in the final playing eleven in the England-bound Test match.
And should he manage to score 69 runs on the whole – but let’s hope he gets more- Ajinkya Rahane would’ve crossed 5,000 Test match runs.
Could there be a bigger occasion in which to reach such a desirable landmark?