Ajinkya Rahane: Is it the end of the road for the former Test vice-captain?

Australia v India: 2nd Test - Day 2
Ajinkya Rahane's chances of an India recall seem bleak

Despite significant contributions in the middle-order over the last decade, Ajinkya Rahane is one of the most underrated cricketers in India. Along with Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, Rahane has been the backbone of India’s middle-order in Test cricket post the retirements of stalwarts Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, and Sachin Tendulkar.

The Mumbai-based batter made his Test debut for India in 2013 and has since played 82 Test matches, scoring 4931 runs at an average of 38.52. The right-hander had an impressive first few years in Test cricket, where he scored overseas centuries in Australia, England, and New Zealand, along with an impressive 96 in South Africa.

Rahane’s ability to maneuver the innings with lower-order batters has been remarkable and has drawn India out of tricky situations time and again.

Ajinkya Rahane's slump in form

The former India Test vice-captain had a minor dip in form in 2017 and 2018, but performed exceptionally well in 2019, averaging over 71 in Test cricket. However, post that, Rahane has struggled in the longest format with only one century in the last 3 years at an average hovering around the low 20s.

The only high for Ajinkya Rahane came during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2020-21 when he led from the front as stand-in skipper in Virat Kohli’s absence and took India to a memorable series win Down Under.

After being bundled out for that infamous 36 during the Adelaide Test and losing the first match of the series, India scripted a historic comeback to win the series 2-1. Apart from a solitary century in Melbourne during the Boxing Day Test, Rahane has struggled to contribute significantly.

Despite struggling for close to three years, the team management backed the vice-captain and ensured consistent opportunities were given to the batter. However, the selectors ran out of patience and ultimately handed over the Test cap to Shreyas Iyer.

Shreyas Iyer has been a solid replacement for Rahane at number 5
Shreyas Iyer has been a solid replacement for Rahane at number 5

Iyer replaced Rahane at number five and has been a revelation for India. Along with that, the national selectors will be looking to groom players for the future and hence, have added the likes of Suryakumar Yadav to the Test squad.

With age not on his side as well as youngsters knocking on the door, it seems unlikely that Ajinkya Rahane will make a return to the Indian Test setup, despite strong performances in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season.

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Edited by Arshit Garg
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