Ajinkya Rahan will play his first red ball for India in 18 months and possibly face a do-or-die situation in the World Testing Championship final against Australia at The Oval starting on June 7th. A quick transition from T20 to the five-day format Rahan plans to “keep it simple” and hopes the impeccable time he posted at the IPL will take him to London. A tough call to remove Rahane and Cheteswar Pujara from the Test team after losing the series in South Africa was made in early 2022, but the latter returned to the team after a poor performance in county cricket that year.
Rahana, an 82 Tests veteran, had to wait another year for her return. He earned his national challenge after winning the Ranji Trophy and most recently after his IPL reimagining which impressed everyone.
In all likelihood, he would not have received a recall if Shreyas Iyer had been in shape, but both form and luck played a part in his comeback. With the much younger Ayer already established himself in the middle tier, Rahein’s clock will be ticking when he takes the field at The Oval.
His record in the three Tests he played in South London may be forgotten, but it is unlikely to play into his mind as ability has never been questioned throughout his career, amassing hundreds in New Zealand, England and Australia.
As the world of cricket witnessed in 2021 when he led India to one of their greatest triumphs in Down Under, Australia, both opponents tend to get the best out of Rahan. This time, he won’t have the added pressure of a team captain, he’ll just have to let his bat speak for himself.
A Test average of 38.52 doesn’t say much about Rahein’s consistency, but former MSK head tackle Prasad thinks the experienced slugger should press ahead if he succeeds in the high-stakes WTC final.
“First of all, Ajinkja has a fantastic record in away series. He has wounds almost everywhere. He didn’t do well and lost his seat, but in the past 18 months he has played a lot of home cricket and a lot of runs,” Prasad, who led the selection committee between 2016 and 2020, told PTI.
“I understand that Iyer is doing well, but this (his injury) could turn out to be a blessing for India. If he’s doing well, why not continue with him.”
“If you treat other older people who haven’t performed and give them a chance. Rahane has now been given the opportunity following his performance in home cricket. If he succeeds in England, we should stay with him.” Sarandeep Singh, who was part of the selection committee when Rahein engineered the mother of all comebacks in Australia, also backed Rahan when asked if it would be a regressive move to continue the Mumbai dough.
“He has always performed well in England and Australia. He was waiting for his chance and after Shreyas’ injury he was given a chance again. his experience and if he scores, we have to persevere with him.
“When Shreyas is in shape, everything will be different, but now Rahein is the best option (at number five),” says Sarandeep.
How Rahane handles this one-off game will be critical. By his own admission, it would be better for him to stay in the moment and not let the enormity of the event get the better of him.
He has inside runs under his belt, but facing the likes of Mitchell Stark, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood with the Dukes will be a very different game. No doubt Rahane will be ready to take on the challenge.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by the NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated channel.)
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