Team India head coach Rahul Dravid has clarified that Ajinkya Rahane’s return to the Test squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia cannot be considered a one-off. He stated that if the right-handed batter grabs his opportunity, there is no reason why he cannot be retained.
Rahane was dropped from the Test squad last year following a prolonged lean spell with the willow. However, injuries to KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer opened up a berth in the middle order and the former vice-captain earned a recall following an impressive Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 season.
While most experts have predicted that Rahane will bat at No. 5, the question in many people’s minds is whether his comeback is only for the one-off Test at The Oval.
“You don’t want him to approach this as just a one-off. Sometimes, you get dropped from teams and you make a comeback and you come back and play for as long as you are playing well and as long as your performing. It’s not written in stone that you only get one match," Dravid answered to a query at a press conference on Monday.
“If he puts in a good performance and shows what he has got, who knows, even when people come back from injury, you never know what can happen,” he added.
Rahane batted in an uncharacteristically aggressive fashion during IPL 2023, smashing 326 runs in 14 matches at an average of 32.60 and a strike rate of 172.49.
“He brings proven performance in overseas conditions” - Dravid on Rahane
Sharing his views on Rahane’s comeback, Dravid asserted that having someone of his experience is good for the team.
He pointed out the 35-year-old batter’s impressive performances in overseas conditions in the past and commented:
“Firstly, it’s good to have him. We have had a few injuries which probably led to him having the opportunity to come back into the squad. Great for us to have someone of his quality. He brings a lot of that experience, he brings proven performance in overseas conditions, even in England, he has played some terrific innings for us.
“He brings terrific catching in the slips. He just brings his personality to the group, which is really important. He has led the team and has had considerable success. It’s just great to have him around here.”
Rahane, who is celebrating his birthday on Tuesday, has represented India in 82 Tests, scoring 4931 runs at an average of 38.52, with 12 hundreds and 25 fifties.