Ajinkya Rahane in coloured clothing has been a shadow of his self in whites. To someone of the class of Rahane, one would assume switching between the formats shouldn’t be as difficult as it would be to some others. But surprisingly it hasn’t been the case; Rahane’s ODI career hasn’t yet taken off to the expected heights, but instead is lingering between unfulfilled promises and lost opportunities.
Rahane, who opened in his debut series in England, hasn’t had a position of his own in ODI’s even after 70 matches under his belt, and this is one of the primary reasons of his undoing. But then, that alone isn’t entirely to be blamed. Somehow Rahane hasn’t been able to put the necessary things in order for him to get going in the 50 over format.
Out of his 68 innings, Rahane has got to open in 40 innings, which is a fair share of percentage one can bargain for. But the problem has been that these 40 innings have been scattered across the length of 5 years. That said, Rahane’s returns haven’t been great either.
Rahane averages a meagre 32 as an opener with 1274 runs in 40 innings, scoring just two hundreds in total. For someone who possess such high quality these numbers are well below average. Rahane has failed to convert his numerous starts to big innings which otherwise could have made a strong case for his selection as an opener, despite the pressure from other flamboyant stroke makers.
The current series is another prime example of a frustrating run of play for Rahane. In all 3 ODI’s Rahane got himself into decent starts but converted none of them. All of the dismissals were quite soft in nature, and if anyone is to be blamed then it is Rahane himself.
Rahane, who effortlessly plays the role of anchoring an innings in IPL, is best suited to open for India in ODI’s. As the batting order gets lower his shot making abilities are curtailed, hence making him look unnatural and ugly at times when trying to force the play with slightly older ball and a spread out field.
Surprisingly Rahane averages (37) slightly better at No 4 than as an opener, but this isn’t a case anyone is looking at, with anymore interest.
“I think four is the number for Rahane. Even four is quite low for him I would say,” Dhoni had once said. Dhoni had even gone on to say that Rahane found it difficult to rotate strikes on a consistent basis when batting lower down the order. Now, with Dhoni trying to make a move up to 4 and Manish Pandey expressing himself with fearless freedom lower down the order, Rahane’s only chance seems to be at the top.
Injuries to Shikhar Dhawan and K.L Rahul have helped Rahane get another go as an opener. With just 2 ODI’s to go, Rahane needs to make a strong case for himself.
Dhawan’s ODI form hasn’t dwindled as his test form and Rahul is making massive cuts with a string of impressive performances in shorter formats. Both Dhawan and Rahul possess a more attacking game as that of Rahane which adds more value to their case. The strong point for Rahane is that he is a trustworthy player, going by his test record, but something which he is yet to prove in ODI’s.
With only a handful of matches left before India plays in the Champions trophy, Rahane hasn’t got time in his hands. The last two ODI’s against the Kiwis is perhaps his last chance to make a claim for his spot as an opener.
As such there isn’t any technical flaw or neither there is any issue with his temperament, but due to reasons more than one, things haven’t just fallen in place as he would have liked them to.
So far in the series, Rahane has poked at one, pulled one in the air and pushed one uppishly. For things to change, Rahane has to apply himself better and make his chance count, otherwise this will be another glorious opportunity lost.