India have a few headaches about team combination ahead of the second Test against South Africa at Centurion on Saturday. India chose to go for in-from batsman in Rohit Sharma and dropped Ajinkya Rahane in the first Test. But Indian batsmen failed miserably at Cape Town, necessitating the needs for a change in the batting order.
It would be either Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane for the No 5 spot. Who should be given the chance to play at Centurion? Cricwizz analyses their home and away performance to answer this question.
The Hitman began his Test career with a bang, registering two centuries in his first two Tests against West Indies in 2013 during Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series. But he took 20 Tests and four years to register his third ton. In the two Tests he played against Sri Lanka last month, he scored a ton and two fifties. It was this form and in limited-overs cricket that prompted team management to go with Rohit in the Cape Town Test. He averages 85.44 in 9 Tests at home with three tons and 5 fifties.
Rahane’s record at home is below-average, just the opposite of Rohit Sharma’s. He averages just 33.63 in 19 Tests at home with 3 tons and 3 fifties. His form in the last Test series against Sri Lanka was dismal, aggregating just 17 runs in 5 innings. It was this poor form that led to his exclusion from the XI.
The Hitman averages just 25.11 in 15 overseas Tests. He has just 4 fifties to his credit in 27 innings. Two of those fifties have come in Sri Lanka. It’s clear Rohit Sharma’s technique and skills are questionable in overseas conditions where pitches offer seam, pace and swing. Rohit played two Tests in South Africa in 2013, aggregating 45 runs in 4 innings.
Rahane’s performance in overseas conditions has been extremely admirable, averaging 53.44 in 24 Tests with 6 tons and 9 fifties. Except in South Africa, he has recorded a ton in every overseas cricket nation he has played in. In the last tour of South Africa in 2013, he performed well, missing out a ton by just four runs in the Durban Test. He aggregated 209 runs @ 69.66 in 4 innings in South Africa.
Verdict: India should select team combination on the basis of conditions and not on current form as form is temporary and class is permanent. Rahane has the reputation of raising his game when the conditions are challenging and the chips are down. Rahane will be the ideal player to face the South African bowlers at Centurion. Our vote goes to Rahane.