Captain Ajinkya Rahane faces tough task in India vs Australia Dharamsala Test

Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By
Mar 25, 2017 01:12 PM IST

Ajinkya Rahane, who has been battling inconsistent form, was named India captain against Australia in the Dharamasala Test. Can the added responsibility bring the best out of him?

Ajinkya Rahane, having proven his batting ability in overseas conditions, faced a golden opportunity to better his home record as India’s long home season kicked off in September last year. (Day 1 blog)

Ajinkya Rahane (centre) became India’s 33rd Test captain during the fourth match against Australia in Dharamsala.(BCCI)
Ajinkya Rahane (centre) became India’s 33rd Test captain during the fourth match against Australia in Dharamsala.(BCCI)

However, the Mumbai batsman hit a rare slump as India missed one of its most reliable player’s contribution in the longest format. A shoulder injury to Virat Kohli, ahead of the Dharmasala Test against Australia, saw him becoming India’s 33rd Test captain on Saturday.

Kohli’s shoulder injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Rahane, who is struggling with consistency. He has scored only one half-century in the last three Tests against Australia and it remains to be seen if pressure can bring the best out of him as captain and as a player. (Day 1 scorecard)

Home-away disparity

While Rahane averages 51.23 in away Tests (20), it slumps down to 37.83 (in 14 Tests) when it comes to playing at home.

As India’s home season comes to an end with the decider clash against Australia underway in Dharamsala, Rahane has not quite enjoyed the home comfort.

The way he started the season against New Zealand where he scored 347 runs in three Tests which included a century and a half-century, one expected Rahane to go all out against the below-par England.

But in the first three Tests, Rahane could manage only 63 runs against England. On the eve of his Test debut in Mumbai, Rahane was hit on the finger in the nets which ruled him out of the fourth and fifth Tests.

Karun Nair, who replaced Rahane in the England series, grabbed the opportunity with both hands by scoring a triple ton in Chennai. One wondered whether Nair’s knock would lead to Rahane’s dropping from the playing XI against Bangladesh in the one-off Test.

Poor run

However, that wasn’t the case as the team management included a fit-again Rahane in the Hyderabad Test where he scored 82 in the first innings and 28 in the second dig as India comprehensively beat Bangladesh.

Coming into the Australia series, the first Test at Pune did not go well for Rahane as well as the other Indian batsmen. However, in the second Test at Bengaluru, Rahane, who was out cheaply on 17 in the first innings, made an important contribution of 52 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara (92) as the Indian duo added vital runs to India’s total on a difficult wicket to bat.

Expectations were high from Rahane to score big on a flat deck in Ranchi for the third Test, but it didn’t go as per the plan and was out for 14 following a poor shot.

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