The Ajinkya Rahane conundrum; Where does he fit in now?
If anybody had told you that the present Indian team would zip Australia 3-0 in the T20 series after losing the ODI series 4-1, there are huge chances that you might have laughed off the thought.
But with a combination of sublime batting, refreshingly good bowling and clinical finishing, especially in the third game, the Men in Blue swept the series by the very same margin to round off their tour, which began on a worrying note, on a hugely encouraging note.
One of the things that was bothering the Indian setup after the first 2 ODIs was the form of Shikhar Dhawan, who just couldn't get going and the talk of Ajinkya Rahane, being pushed to the top of the batting order started to gain volume again.
But like has been the case of late, of what seemed to be his final chance to get back among the runs, the left-hander, came up with the goods in the third ODI at Melbourne, with a patient 68 to save his place for at least the remaining ODIs.
The real Dhawan was in view in the following match at Canberra, and in every match after that, as the Delhi batsman came out all guns blazing, scoring a total of 267 runs in the final two ODIs and three T20Is combined to confirm his place as the opener, for perhaps the World T20.
If the Canberra ODI saw things take an upward turn for Dhawan, it was the opposite for Rahane. The right-hander had to leave the field during the Australian innings after injuring his right hand and as a precaution, the management decided to rest him for the remainder of the tour.
Among the additions that came for the T20, Suresh Raina proved to be the most effective inclusion as he played crucial knocks in both the first and third game to help India eventually win. In the only opportunity that he got, Yuvraj Singh started shakily but finished off very well with a four and a six to eventually help the side win the last match.
Where does Rahane fit in now?
Two slots that certainly won't see any changes are Number 2 and 3. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were just too good for anybody to even imagine altering their positions and so for Rahane to figure in place of these two looks highly unlikely.
In Adelaide, we saw Raina walk in at 4 with just over 15 overs to go and he gave the fluent looking Kohli most of the strike before getting into the groove himself and in Melbourne, it was Dhoni who came in the dying end of the innings.
With Raina looking good, he could get to bat at 4 in the upcoming Sri Lanka series and Dhoni looking to shuffle between 5 & 6 and Yuvraj likely to get another series to play, it really is a quandary for the team management as to where they fit one of their most reliable players in recent times.
The only available slot could be in place of Dhawan at the top, but if one goes by the recent trend and even comments, then it looks like the team management are willing to persist with Dhawan, even if he has multiple failures on the trot.
For their line of thought is that when he does come off, he provides the side with great impetus which eventually helps them set up big totals while batting first or give them early momentum while chasing and so they are giving him the extra cushion to succeed.
It certainly isn't right on Rahane, that despite improving his limited-overs game, as was evident in the two knocks he played at Brisbane and Melbourne, he isn't a surety in the XI, but it seems like the blow to his hand may have come at just about the worst possible time for him.
While it does looks like India will pick the same 15 for the World T20, with maybe Irfan Pathan in place of Umesh Yadav, Rahane will remain in contention for a spot in the team but sadly, though for him, it looks like he won't be a certainty in the starting XI.