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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

Cricket Columns

Curious case of Ajinkya Rahane
Aakash Chopra
March 22, 2013
First Published: 00:07 IST(22/3/2013)
Last Updated: 00:09 IST(22/3/2013)

Nothing explains the absurdity of Indian cricket better than the predicament of one man — Ajinkya Rahane. For over two years, and inspite of scoring truckloads of runs in first-class cricket, Rahane has been warming the bench, consistently playing the 12th man.

Almost a year-and-a-half ago, when India had toured Australia, Rahane had been picked as the back-up opener for the flagging duo of Sehwag and Gambhir.

While he struck an average of more than 62 with 19 first-class centuries to his credit, he’d hardly ever opened for his state.

The need of the hour though demanded him to change gears, for only an opener’s spot was up for grabs.

He started opening for Mumbai in Ranji and West Zone in Duleep Trophy to not only stake claim but also to get used to the demands of opening the innings in the longer format.

While he was practicing with the new ball, the selection panel changed and with it his role in the batting line-up. Now, the new committee has earmarked him as an option in the middle order.

No respite
Considering his new role, he’s gone back to batting in the middle order in the first-class circuit too.

But, unfortunately, his quandary hasn’t concluded with the change in his role (even before making his Test debut).

In what has been an utter travesty of justice, inspite of being in the squad for the longest time, others have pipped him to the post each time an opportunity has come by.

After the horrendous tour to Australia and the exit of both Laxman and Dravid, Rahane was expected to finally don the India jersey.

Since he was a part of the previous tour, it was logical to assume that he’d get an opportunity ahead of anyone else.

But, Rahane’s fate reversed logic as Raina got picked to play against New Zealand in the two Test matches at home.

The only chance Rahane had to show his wares was when Raina failed. Well, Raina did fail, once again, but it wasn’t Rahane who got a nod for the XI this time too. Yuvraj Singh was preferred over him.

The writer is a former India opener


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