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Ajinkya Rahane should have played

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Much to the dismay of believers in series fixing, India have secured the 5 match series against England in the 4th game itself. With a 5 wicket win, they have taken the series 3-1. Apart from Steve Finn’s frustrating habit of kicking the stumps in his delivery stride, the other talking point of the match was Rohit Sharma – his 83 and his selection.

This might be the (n+1)th time this sentence must have been said or written. He is talented, of that there is no doubt. He was regarded as a worthy successor to the great Sachin Tendulkar. After his lazy elegance came to the fore yesterday, so did comparisons with the great man. Sachin played 69 matches before he got his chance to open against New Zealand in 1994. He scored 82 off 49 balls in that innings. Rohit Sharma managed to score 83 off 93 balls.

Before he began to open the innings, Sachin scored 1758 runs at an average of 30.84. Excluding the matches in which Rohit has opened (4 – including yesterday) he has scored 1949 runs at an average of 31.44. Everyone knows the story of Sachin as an opener. Rohit now has 112 runs in 4 innings as an opener. Whether or not he follows in the footsteps of the little master remains to be seen. It is unlikely. But even if he manages to come close, he would have served Indian cricket very well.

However, Rohit Sharma should not have played the last match. The other way around, Rahane did not deserve to be dropped. When Rahane played a string of matches (10) together against England in 2011, he scored 340 runs at an average of 34. After that, he has hardly been given a proper run. He played one game against West Indies in December 2011, and then the next one was against Sri Lanka in August 2012. He got one game against Pakistan and now three against England. After having scored 47 in the first match, he threw his wicket away. He hadn’t performed in the 2nd and 3rd ODI as well. But those two failures were not cause enough for him to be dropped. His mode of dismissal is perhaps, a factor. A classical batsman considered to be technically equipped, opening the batting cannot afford to offer such a huge gap between bat and pad. This flaw could have crept in because of the Indian think tank’s obsession of converting him into a T20 opener. He still looks more comfortable at the crease than Gautam Gambhir who seems to have forgotten how to bat.

Whatever the cause, Rahane deserves to be treated as the other so called talented players. Two failures for a Sehwag would have been written off. An entire series of low scores from Rohit Sharma has been brushed aside as talent being wasted. If a player is good enough to make it to the Indian team, shouldn’t talent be a given? Some might possess a few more strokes here and there or that extra time to play those strokes, but does that mean they are allowed to fail more often? In fact, if the player does make batting look easy, shouldn’t the yardstick be shorter for him? One would think that if a player is so talented, he wouldn’t need so many matches to prove himself. Whatever be the reason for Rahane’s exclusion, it definitely is unfair and undermines his value in the side.

Stats by: Karna Yajnik



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