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India vs Australia 2017: Sunil Gavaskar slams Indian selectors for axing Ajinkya Rahane from T20I squad

The batting icon has demanded an explanation for KL Rahul's inclusion over Rahane.

News 05 Oct 2017, 00:50 IST

Sunil Gavaskar Ajinkya Rahane
Sunil Gavaskar has jumped to the defence of Ajinkya Rahane

What's the story?

Sunil Gavaskar has lashed out at the Indian selectors for dropping the in-form Ajinkya Rahane from the T20I squad for the upcoming 3-match series against the visiting Australians. Demanding an explanation for the selection of KL Rahul, the batting icon pointed to Rahane's exploits in the recently completed ODI series and questioned his axing for the game's shortest format.

In a telephonic chat with NDTV, Gavaskar thundered, "Rahane's omission is not understandable. He just scored four consecutive fifties (in the ODI series) - why is he not in the (T20I) team? Now, KL Rahul is a fine batsman. But he did not play a single game in the five one-dayers. So why is he in the (T20I) team and not Rahane who scored four half-centuries. Some reason has to be given by the selection committee to say that Rahul is such a better player than Rahane in the one-day game, in the T20 format."

The 68-year old added, "Therefore, we have picked him. For a man who does not find a place in the last five or six one-day games for India still manages a place in the T20 (format) when the man who has played all the six ODIs after the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka and scored four half-centuries. So, please explain to me how he (Rahane) finds himself out of the T20 side."

In case you didn't know...

This was not the first instance of Gavaskar coming to the defence of Rahane. After the fellow Mumbaikar was not considered for the first four ODIs in the away series against Sri Lanka, the former captain claimed that nice guys were being left out of the team in favour of certain individuals with funky hairstyles and eye-catching tattoos.

The heart of the matter

With Shikhar Dhawan taking leave in order to attend to his ailing wife, Rahane took his spot in the playing eleven and opened the innings alongside Rohit Sharma during the ODIs against Australia. The technically solid batsman made a case for regular selection by smashing four successive half-centuries and helped set the platform for India to seal the series by a 4-1 margin.

Rahane and Rohit put on 139, 106 and 124 runs in the last three matches of the series to become the first opening pair in Indian history to register three consecutive century-plus partnerships in ODIs.

Extra Cover: India vs Australia 2017 - Ajinkya Rahane talks about his exclusion from the T20I side

Despite Rahane's stellar run of form, the Indian selectors decided to omit the right-hander from the T20I squad. While Dhawan returned to reclaim his spot at the top of the order, KL Rahul managed to retain his place in the squad.

What's next?

The first T20I of the 3-match series between India and Australia will take place at the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi on the 7th. The next two matches are scheduled to occur on 10th and 13th at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati and the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad respectively.

Author's take

Even though he has struggled in the 50-over format, Rahul's track record in T20Is is solid. He has scored 304 runs (including an unbeaten century) from 9 T20Is at an impressive average of 50.66 and splendid strike-rate of 149.01. On the other hand, Rahane averages 20.83 at a below-par strike-rate of 113.29 in the shortest format.

It is clear from the statistics that Rahul is a better T20I batsman than Rahane as the latter does not score quickly enough to merit a spot in the squad. It is quite apparent that Gavaskar's views reek of regional bias. Unlike in his playing days, the legendary batsman seems to have missed the mark this time around.

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