- Is Rahane’s form a concern? India’s batting coach has the answer
- Ajinkya Rahane has been averaging 24.76 in Tests since the start of 2020
India’s bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur scored 117 runs in the fourth Test against England with his twin half-centuries. That is 8 runs more than India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has aggregated across seven innings in this series so far with just one half-century to his name.
Since the beginning of 2020, Rahane is averaging 24.76 in Tests, which is the lowest among the 34 international players with over 500 runs.
In this period he played 27 innings scoring just one century alongside two fifties in 27 innings.
As a consequence, the question that, as Sunil Gavaskar claimed, was being whispered at the outset of the England tour has now only grown louder: is it time for India to drop Rahane for the final Test in Manchester?
Even though the overwhelming vote on the poll posted on ESPNcricinfo’s Live Report on day four was in favour of Rahane being dropped, Indian batting coach Vikram Rathour disagreed, saying the Indian team management had not yet “arrived to that point” where Rahane’s woeful form had become a concern.
Rathour said, “Not at this point,” at the media briefing after stumps on Sunday and added, “As I have said earlier, when you are playing cricket for such a long time you will have phases where you will not get runs. That is the time as a team we need to back them and support them as much as we can.
“As we saw with Pujara also – him getting more opportunities and he’s come back. He has played a couple of very important innings for us. So we are hoping that Ajinkya will get back into form and he will still play a major role in the Indian team’s batting.
“So I don’t think we have arrived at that point that it should become a concern.”
Since the start of 2017, Rahane has averaged 34.50, which is the fourth-lowest among the 19 Indian players with more than 2000 Test runs. When asked whether such a long stretch of inconsistency coupled with low scores indicated Rahane had gaps in his technique, Rathour, yet again, felt that was not the case or at least not the appropriate time to address the issue, if there was one.
He said, “When you are playing such an important series like this one and when you are playing in the conditions which are tough for batting, we are playing against such a disciplined attack which has been bowling really well, so as a batting unit, technique is the last thing you should be thinking.
“This is the time you need to be really looking at what the bowlers are doing, how’s it coming off the wicket and what your game plans are. So I don’t think we are looking at technique at this stage at all.
“There is time and place to work on technique, I don’t think it is mid-series or mid-game. So if there are any issues it can be addressed later when he has time.
“But at this point of time everything that is being discussed is about the game plans, how they approach the innings, what they are thinking when they are playing and looking to score runs. That’s it.”
Rathour also pointed out that promoting Ravindra Jadeja to No. 5, Rahane’s batting position for so long, was primarily aimed at getting the left-right combination in the middle order instead of having two left-hand batters at Nos. 6 and 7 along with wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant.
India’s batting coach explained “It was a simple strategy,” adding that “Jadeja was batting with a lot of control so as a team we wanted to see how it affects our balance and momentum in the middle.
“In both innings it worked to an extent – even today he had a pretty good partnership with Virat, about 59 runs, which worked for the team. Whether it would be a long-term plan, we will have to wait for that.”