Ajinkya Rahane plots his route to 2019 World Cup; Rohit Sharma outlines red ball ambitions
What's the story?
The much-fabled talents of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane once again find themselves on the sidelines from the Test and ODI squads respectively. Rohit got excluded from the squad named to face Afghanistan in the historic one-off Test while Rahane has been ousted from the squad named for the limited-overs leg of the tour of England after both of them put on a rather underwhelming show in the respective formats on the tour of South Africa.
Both of them have had a history of looking promising before fizzling out and having their respective weaknesses exposed by the bowlers. But now it seems like both of them have found clarity with regards to their conundrums and now look determined to be unfazed by the axing and just work their ways back into the squads.
The duo, however, seem to be approaching things differently. Rahane, in his customary calculative temperament, seems to have the whole situation figured out and has a plan to find his spot back in the side meticulously. Rohit, the rather laid back figure, admits that he is done fretting over things and instead of being frustrated by his inconsistent run of opportunities, and is now just willing to play the patient waiting game.
In case you didn't know...
Although he has had a stop-start career for India in white ball cricket, often being dropped after a bilateral series or two, Rahane has been a member of India's roster in the last four ICC events.
Rohit Sharma is one of the only eight test cricketers to score centuries in two consecutive tests from their debut.
The heart of the matter
“It is important that you get time to prepare yourself and clarity is important when you know that you are not in the ODI squad and you just going to play Test matches in England,” Rahane said speaking at the CEAT Cricket Awards on Monday. “I will get a good amount of time for the Afghanistan Test and after that for the England tour.
“No, I am not at all frustrated; actually the thing is I can tell you this is actually motivating me because I am looking to make a comeback. Right now, my focus is on Test cricket. I still believe that I can come back and do well in the shorter formats with the World Cup coming up.
“I did well in ODI cricket when I got my opportunity in West Indies. I got man of the series award, again against Australia I did really well. In South Africa, the team management asked me to bat at No. 4 and I did well. So, it is just a matter of time. I always focused on what I need to do and I am not at all worried. I am still confident that I will make a comeback and do well for my country in the shorter format.”
Time and again, Rahane has displayed a positive outlook on and off the field, a characteristic which has made him one of the more likable cricketers around or a tragic hero, sheer dependence on the circumstances.
“I am going forward with the theory of ‘whatever time I have, make it count’. I got into the national team when I was 20 and I made my Test debut when I was 26. I had an opportunity to make my debut in 2010 but I missed that (due to an injury). After that, it made me realise that the more you want, your attitude changes. I have realised there’s a time for everything,” said Rohit at the same event, his words brimming with his usual carefree composure.
"When I started playing cricket, there was no white-ball cricket. We used to play in school, in age-group cricket with red ball. White ball came much later. As a child, you only saw red-ball cricket," said Rohit as he dismissed the prevalent theory of him being a white ball specialist.
Rahane has his second assignment as the stand-in test skipper of the Indian cricket team as Virat Kohli has been given a rare respite of breath by being rested for the one-off test against Afghanistan. Rahane excelled in his captaincy debut where he led an inspired rout of the promising Australians in the heated decider at Dharamsala as India regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He showed an attitude which was reflective of how he plays his cricket, relentless yet with a demeanor of calmness.
Rohit, after a rare show of under-performance in the IPL, will seek redemption on the white ball assignments in Ireland and England. He will be eager to have some fresh acclimatization with the weather and pitch conditions presented in England to prepare himself for the bigger picture, the ICC World Cup in England and Wales in 2019.
The supposed reason that these two have not been able to make it in the two formats that they have struggled is the lack of consistently defined roles in the side that would suit these players' style of play. If Rahane is given a run at the top of the order where he can simply play the accumulator and the batting can revolve around him and Rohit is slotted in the lower order in the Test batting line-up, he might do well in that position against the second new ball and in situations that demand brisk run scoring.