With Virat Kohli rested for the three-match series against Sri Lanka, the onus was on Ajinkya Rahane to make the most of the opportunity and vie for a place in the XI for the Asia Cup and World Twenty20.
The 27-year-old barely made the squads for the two big tournaments, and his place in the XI remains uncertain. Batting at No 3 in Kohli’s absence, Rahane failed to capitalise on the opportunity for the second successive time.
In the first T20I, Rahane fell for four, this time he got a start (25 off 21), but could not carry on. Like in Pune, he was forced into an early shot while looking to keep the runs flowing.
Rahane, who was also a part of the India T20 side that toured Australia, was ignored for all the three games.
The Sri Lanka series was his last chance to put his hat in the ring, but with just a game to go, time seems to be running out.
Rahane usually bats at No 4 in ODIs, but in T20s his role is unclear. He could push for the opener’s role but the solid partnership between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan has ruled that out.
The other option is to bat in the lower middle-order by pushing Yuvraj Singh out.
However, the left-hander’s match-winning performance in the final T20I in Sydney has helped his cause, and the failure on Friday (0) may have left Rahane with a slim chance.
The third game could make or break Rahane’s World T20 hopes. Warming the bench may not suit the elegant batsman who was captain of the Rajasthan Royals in the last IPL.
Rahane has shown consistency in ODIs, but with T20 being the flavour of the season, he needs to improve in the shortest format.
Without Kohli, India have appeared to be dependent on the in-form openers, as the others have appeared to be a work in progress. Rahane now has just one game to prove that he remains a viable option.