Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has backed under-fire middle order batsman Ajinkya Rahane despite the latter’s poor run of form in the current India-England series, saying that he is “as good as Virat Kohli in Tests for India”.
Speaking to India Today, Ganguly said that there is no danger to Rahane’s spot in the Test team, deeming him as an integral member of the side. He advised the 28-year old to stop thinking much about the dip in form and “take it out of his system”.
"I'll tell him to just take this (poor run) out of your system, go out and enjoy, have a dinner and come back tomorrow and just take it out of your mind. India will field again tomorrow so he does not have to bat”, he said.
Rahane has not matched up to the standards he is known to promise at the Test level, having managed just 63 runs from 5 innings. Surprisingly, the dip in form comes after his 188 against the Kiwis in the last Test of the previous series. He looked out of sorts in the ODI series as well, garnering just one fifty-plus score in five matches. The 188 was incidentally his highest score in Tests.
“Rahane is a very intense cricketer and you could see that in his front foot defence , even when he missed the line of the ball his head was down and he was all the way forward to the delivery trying to get everything correct,” Ganguly added.
Known for his watertight technique and unflappable temperament, Rahane, who has been playing Tests for India since 2013, has a better record away from home, than he has on Indian soil.
Despite his recent failures, he has received support from various quarters, including other former cricketers like Nikhil Chopra, who said that “Rahane is a class act” and “just one innings away from getting back in the rhythm”. Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahane’s India teammate, has also backed him, saying that “he is an important player for the team”.
In his previous 31 Tests, Rahane has scored 2272 runs at an average of 48.34, which is in stark contrast to his series average of 12.60. He has scored eight centuries and nine fifties, including a high score of 188. Five of the eight centuries have come abroad.
Given the fact that he has been a proven performer for the team, it won’t be long before he is back in his groove. Till then, it is imperative that he gets the backing of his fans and teammates alike.