India as a team had a brilliant outing on their England tour, but the form of the batters would have left them slightly disappointed. While Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli got some runs in the third and fourth Test, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane looked completely out of touch. It’s not just the lack of runs but Rahane has looked very unsure and tentative. The right-hander averages just 19.57 in 11 Tests he has played this year.
Many fans and experts feel that Rahane has passed his prime and it’s time for the Indian management to look forward, especially with talents like Hanuma Vihari, Suryakumar Yadav, Shubman Gill waiting in the wings.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell suggested that Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja can be used in place of Rahane. Promoting any of the aforementioned players in place of Rahane will also allow India to play one of Ashwin or Pandya as the second all-rounder alongside Ravindra Jadeja. However, the players will have to prove their credibility as a genuine batter in tough conditions of SENA countries if India have to think that way.
“A middle order that reads Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Pandya and Ashwin should provide the runs expected of that section. With three fast bowlers to follow, the batting is then supported by a versatile attack. That’s the advantage of having a strong, well-balanced attack – you don’t need huge scores to chase victory.
Chappell further said all these batters can score quickly which will give the Indian bowlers enough time to pick 20 wickets. “The simplest equation for winning Test matches is for the batters to score quickly in order to give the bowlers enough time to take 20 wickets,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNCricinfo.
In addition to being one of the prominent batters of the Indian team, Rahane has one of the smartest brains and often helps Virat Kohli finalise a strategy on the field. His brilliant tactics and field placing helped India stun Australia in the Test series earlier this year. While Chappell admitted that India would miss Rahane’s inputs, he said limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma will fill that shoes.
“The only downside would be the loss of Ajinkya Rahane’s tactical input and his slip fielding to the spinners. Nevertheless, Rohit Sharma is now an acclaimed captain and he’s capable of handling the vice-captaincy role,” he added.