Virat Kohli showed a rare captaincy strategy during the 1-1 drawn T20I series against Australia. He played the same XI in all the three matches. Captain Kohli is known to be ruthless and chop and change the playing XI frequently as per pitch and weather conditions. But Kohli surprised all by sticking to the same XI in the T20I series. It draws a question whether Kohli will follow the same tactics in the upcoming four-match Test series against Australia and retain Ajinkya Rahane in the XI and bench the in-form Rohit Sharma.
Ajinkya Rahane’s struggles since August 2017
Rahane has struggled a bit in Tests in the past couple of seasons. He was preferred over Rohit Sharma in the first two Tests against South Africa early this year. But with Rohit flopping, Rahane returned for the third Test which India won. Rohit was ignored for the England series. And Rahane was given his place back in the middle-order. But Rahane just managed a couple of fifties in 8 innings in England to create further doubts on his place in XI for the Australia Test series.
Rahane has last struck a ton in August 2017, and managed just 3 fifties in 21 innings since then. His overseas record is much better than at home, but in the last two away series against South Africa and England, he has not done much to inspire confidence in Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri.
Rohit Sharma has been inconsistent
Kohli may be tempted to give Rohit another chance in Test cricket, especially on the bouncy, flat pitches in Australia where stroke-making will be conducive. Rohit has been in brilliant form in limited-overs cricket of late and can make a difference in the middle-order with his stroke-play. But his Test career has flattered to deceive so far after a brilliant start, where he cracked two tons in first two Tests. Since then, he has managed to crack just one more ton in next 23 Tests.
Hence, Rohit Sharma is a more of a gamble than Rahane whose dogged batting in the past has rescued India many a time in Test cricket. Rahane has a superior technique, and temperament in Test cricket compared to Rohit’s.
What Kohli can do?
Kohli made a few blunders in playing XI selection in away Test series in past, and hence, he might go the conventional way and stick with Rahane. And if the T20I series is any indication, Kohli might follow a traditional route and avoid any experiment and gamble. He may, however, juggle his bowling options depending on the pitch conditions. But in the Rahane vs Rohit drama, he may go for the former and play safe. But if Rahane fails to click, Rohit will be back in the reckoning for the later Tests.