Ajinkya Rahane can’t afford any slip-ups against the Windies

While other Indian top-order batsmen too have had mediocre performances overseas over the last two years, unlike them Rahane does not have impressive home numbers to offset his.

October 03, 2018 07:08 pm | Updated 07:43 pm IST

Ajinkya Rahane has scored a measly 941 runs at an average of 28 since November 2016. The upcoming series could be  make-or-break for him. | Reuters

Ajinkya Rahane has scored a measly 941 runs at an average of 28 since November 2016. The upcoming series could be make-or-break for him. | Reuters

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In October of 2016, Ajinkya Rahane’s Test career was only 29 Tests old. In that short span, he had amassed 2,209 runs at a massive overall batting average of 51.37. He had 8 centuries and 9 fifties to his name. And those runs had come with an equal fluency in both home and away conditions, as his batting averages of 51.75 and 51.22 respectively up to that period would suggest. And the world held its breath in anticipation of the beast they expected him to become in the days to come.

But here he is now, two years down the line — his every step scrutinised, every failure criticised, and younger players breathing down his neck, sniffing a vacancy in the side once the selectors decide to give up on him.

It’s October 2018 now and his overall numbers read — 3,150 runs at an average of 40.90 in 50 Tests; an average which is way lower than what it used to be two years back. Moreover, he has added just one century and five fifties in the 34 innings he has played since then. Although an average of 40-odd still reads respectable, his numbers in the 21 Tests that he has played over the last two years certainly do not make for good reading.

He has scored just 941 runs in his last 21 Tests at a meager average of 27.67 which is rather poor in comparison to those of the Indian team’s other top- and middle-order batsmen during this period.

 

 

 

Overall batting figures of Indian batsmen since November, 2016

Batsman

Matches

Innings

Runs

Average

Virat Kohli

23

40

2,593

72.02

Karun Nair

6

7

374

62.33

Rohit Sharma

4

7

295

59.00

Cheteshwar Pujara

24

41

1,954

50.10

Jayant Yadav

4

6

228

45.60

Shikhar Dhawan

11

19

851

44.78

Ravindra Jadeja

17

24

671

41.93

KL Rahul

20

33

1,249

39.03

Murali Vijay

17

29

1,110

72.02

Parthiv Patel

5

8

251

35.85

Hardik Pandya

11

18

532

31.29

Wriddhiman Saha

14

20

480

30.00

Ajinkya Rahane

21

36

941

27.67

  (stats considered only for those batsmen with at least 100 runs and 5 innings to their names)

 

Not only is there a huge disparity between his average and those of the other top-order Indian batsmen, but his runs during this period have come at an even lower average than that of lower-middle-order and lower-order batsmen like Jayant Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya and Wriddhiman Saha.

Although the aforementioned numbers make it look like things have gone horribly wrong for him during this period, a separate study of his home and away numbers presents a different picture.

543 of those 941 runs overall have come in 9 Tests away from home at an average of 36.20. While this might not seem as brilliant as the 51.22 away average he boasted two years ago, it is not all that much poorer than those of top-order batsmen such as Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay and others, who have struggled equally in overseas conditions for the major part of their careers.

Overseas batting figures of Indian batsmen since November, 2016

Batsman

Matches

Innings

Runs

Average

Virat Kohli

11

20

1,040

54.73

Cheteshwar Pujara

10

18

687

40.41

Shikhar Dhawan

8

14

552

39.42

Ajinkya Rahane

9

16

543

36.20

KL Rahul

9

16

471

29.43

Hardik Pandya

10

17

461

28.81

Rishabh Pant

3

6

162

27.00

Wriddhiman Saha

4

5

107

21.40

  (stats considered only for those batsmen with at least 100 runs and 5 innings to their names)

The above statistics show that Virat Kohli has been the only stand-out performer in away conditions whereas all other top-order batsmen — Pujara, Dhawan, Rahul, as well as Rahane — have performed in fairly similar fashion, facing almost the same kind of problems and struggles over the last couple of years.

It is, therefore, Rahane’s batting at home — 398 runs scored in 12 Tests at a measly average of 20.94 — that needs attention. While other Indian batsmen have proved themselves to be absolute beasts at home during this period, things have totally fallen apart for Rahane.

Home Batting figures of Indian batsmen since November, 2016

Batsman

Matches

Innings

Runs

Average

Virat Kohli

12

20

1,553

91.35

Karun Nair

6

7

374

62.33

Shikhar Dhawan

3

5

299

59.80

Cheteshwar Pujara

14

23

1,267

57.59

Murali Vijay

12

19

982

51.68

KL Rahul

11

17

778

48.62

Jayant Yadav

4

6

228

45.60

Ravindra Jadeja

14

20

487

34.78

Wriddhiman Saha

10

15

373

33.90

Ravichandran Ashwin

14

19

431

22.68

Ajinkya Rahane

12

20

398

20.94

  (stats considered only for those batsmen with at least 100 runs and 5 innings to their names)

The above table sums up how poor Rahane has been at home over the last two years. Every top- and middle-order Indian batsman who has played at least five innings at home, in the last two years, averages around or over 50 — except Rahane. In fact, his average of 20.94 is even worse than lower-order batsmen like Jayant Yadav, Jadeja, Saha and Ashwin.

During this time period, he has been dismissed for under 20 runs as many as 13 times. He has gone past the score of 50 only a couple of times and is yet to register a century at home since his magnificient 188 against New Zealand in October, 2016.

While Rahane is not the only Indian batsman who has suffered poor performance in overseas conditions over the last two years, the others have used their home performances to make their cases for a berth in the Test side. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan have now already been axed for the upcoming series against the West Indies, but the management is still backing Pujara and Rahane. There is, however, a limit to everything.

 

 

Even chief selector MSK Prasad has issued a warning to players who perform poorly over an extended period of time. “After [being given] enough opportunities, if the players don’t deliver then in all fairness we need to look at youngsters who are doing well on the domestic cricket circuit and for India ‘A’,” Prasad had said in an interview after India’s Test series defeat to England last month.

Rahane managed only 257 runs in the 5-match Test series in England that concluded last month at a meagre average of 25.70, the numbers mitigated by the two 50-plus scores he managed. Pujara didn’t have the best of series either, managing just 278 runs in 4 matches but his average of 39.71, bolstered by an unbeaten innings of 132 runs, doesn’t read as bad as Rahane’s.

While Pujara still has his superb home numbers to justify a place in the team for himself in the short run, it will become even more difficult for Rahane to retain his place in the squad if he fails in the upcoming home series against the Windies, which will make his home statistics look even uglier.

It is high time, therefore, that Rahane stepped his game up and made his performances at home count for his own career’s sake. His career his hanging by a thread now and he really needs to bring out his best in these two Test matches against the Windies. He can’t afford a slip up at all.

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