One, Two ya Four: The curious case of Ajinkya Rahane – What is the best batting position for Ajinkya Rahane? That is the question.
Ajinkya Rahane (DNA – Aadesh Choudhari)
The case of Ajinkya Rahane has only got more curious. He played in the West Indies after this year’s ICC Champions Trophy and scored runs aplenty, averaged 67.20 with one century and three fifties in five innings, all as an opener.
Rahane got to play in the West Indies only because regular opener Rohit Sharma was given some rest.
When India played in the ODIs in Sri Lanka, Rahane had to warm the bench as Sharma was back in the side to join his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan. The team think-tank could not fit Rahane in any other slot.
When Dhawan had to miss the last ODI in Sri Lanka to attend to his wife, Rahane was bought in as an opener, and he fell for five.
Again, in the home ODI series against Australia, Rahane continued to play and opened with his Mumbai team-mate Sharma, scoring four fifties in five innings.
Now, against New Zealand in the upcoming ODIs, with Sharma and Dhawan back together, it becomes interesting where the team can fit in Rahane.
Whether India can accommodate in Rahane in the ODIs or will the 29-year-old be warming the benches against the Kiwis is anybody’s guess.
Even vice-captain Rohit Sharma had no idea where the team can fit in Rahane. “Yes, Shikhar (Dhawan) is back. But speaking of Rahane, he has probably grabbed all his opportunities in the last few series that he has played,” Sharma said.
“Now, it’s on the captain and the coach, what they want and where they want him to bat. A couple of series back, the captain said he considered him as an opening batsman. I don’t know if the captain wants him to bat at No. 4 again. That will be completely his call. If he feels that we need someone like Rahane batting at four in this particular team right now, I don’t know if that will happen. It is very unclear, we have to wait and see.”
“Whatever limited opportunities Rahane has had in the last few series, he has performed well. It only shows that the strength of this team is so vast, that anyone can come at any time and take the position. So, we all have to be on our toes and keep performing the way we have in the last few years.”
For the record, Rahane has a better strike rate of 85.21 at No. 4 as against 77.23 as opener. There is little to choose between the averages, 37.00 at No. 4 and 36.55 as opener. Rahane, though has scored all his three ODI centuries and 15 fifties as an opener and five half-centuries at No. 4.