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Long wait for Mumbai and Rahane finally ends

898   //    22 Mar 2013, 15:21 IST

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS)

A 16-month-long wait finally came to an end for Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane who was handed his India Test cap by Harbhajan Singh ahead of the team’s fourth cricket Test against Australia here Friday.

In the process, Rahane, who became the 278th Test player for India, also brought an end to a lean patch for the 40-time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai, who did not produce even a single Test player for the country in the last six years.

Off-spinner Ramesh Powar was the last player from Mumbai to make his India debut in May 2007 when he played against Bangladesh at Chittagong.

Since then, 20 players have made their debuts for India but none from Mumbai. It comes as a surprise considering the legendary side have won three Ranji titles (2008-09, 2009-10 and 2012-13) since Powar made his debut.

However, it hasn’t exactly been an easy ride for the 24-year-old who was named in the Test squad to play the West Indies in November 2011. Rahane has been carried in the squad for 16 months and in his presence, he saw seven players make their debuts. He also saw Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag being dropped and Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman retire, without finding a place in the playing 11.

The right-handed batsman, who has 5460 runs at an excellent average of 62.04 with 19 hundreds in 60 First Class games, also got this chance through sheer luck.

Shikhar Dhawan, who made a dazzling start to his career in the third Test at Mohali scoring 187 on debut, was the obvious choice for the Delhi Test until he suffered an injury to his knuckles on his left hand. Gautam Gambhir, who was picked as a replacement for Dhawan, was sidelined owing to jaundice.

This left Rahane as the obvious choice for opening the India innings along with Murali Vijay.

Until his debut here, Rahane has represented India in the 20-over and 50-over formats.

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