Home > Features >

Ajinkya Rahane should be given a good run at the top of the order

Ajinkya Rahane should be given a good run at the top of the order

Ajinkya Rahane… With two bouncers permitted in ODIs, an adept short-pitched delivery player like Rahane could turn out to be a thorn in the flesh of the opposition at the top of the batting line-up © Getty Images

By Karthik Parimal

It has been a forgettable year for the Indian cricket team, both in whites and the blues. While the limited-overs stage has usually been its forte, the side’s decline has been alarming, to say the least. In 17 One-Day Internationals (ODI) played this year, the Indians have won just nine, and seven of those victories have come against Sri Lanka. They were sent packing from the Commonwealth Bank (CB) Series, crashed out of the Asia Cup after being trumped by Bangladesh, and have concluded this year with a defeat to Pakistan at Chennai. A 4-1 win against Sri Lanka in an insignificant series has been the lone bright spot.

The Indian team has always been heavily dependent on its openers. Whenever India has done well in an ODI game during recent times, it’s largely due to the fact that one of the top-order batsmen has anchored the innings. Unfortunately, such knocks have been few and far between by Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag in 2012, and although the former has averaged 42.81, the runs have come in a rather unconvincing manner.

Sehwag’s predicaments post the 2011 World Cup is still an issue of concern too, and his failure at the top has hindered India’s chances. In ten matches this year, Sehwag has scored 217 runs at an average of 21.7, with just one half-century – a highest of 96 against Sri Lanka. His scores in the last ten innings read as follows: 4, 34, 3, 15, 96, 30, 5, 0, 20 and 10. Moreover, frequent injuries haven’t helped his case either. Together, Gambhir and Sehwag have opened six times in ODIs this year and could manage a highest of just 52 against the Australians back in February.

On the other hand, Ajinkya Rahane has been consistently delivering, but his place in the eleven remains uncertain. Whenever picked, he continues to impress, and his scores of 42 and 28 in the two T20 internationals against Pakistan last week can be evidence of that. He fearlessly played over the in-field, unleashed his repertoire of strokes and got India off to a flyer on both occasions, something both Gambhir and Sehwag have struggled to do during recent times. Yet, he’s often sidelined due to the presence of experienced, albeit underperforming, players. One wonders what else is expected of Rahane, especially when the likes of Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja continue to get an extended run despite their lean patch.

It could augur well for India if Rahane becomes a regular fixture in the top-order, at least in the overs-limit format of the game for now, alongside Gambhir. Also, considering the recent amendment of rules in the ODIs, it could prove to be beneficial if Sehwag bats a little lower in the line-up, as his aggressive approach could come in handy when the spinners come in to play during the middle overs with just four fielders outside the inner circle. Moreover, he’d be an apt occupant of the No.5 position, and it’d also ensure that a talented, performing youngster doesn’t lose out on a berth in the side. With two bouncers now permitted in ODIs, an adept short-pitched delivery player like Rahane could turn out to be a thorn in the flesh of the opposition at the top of the batting line-up.

It’s unlikely that the next two ODIs against Pakistan will see a change of openers or a major shuffling of the batting order. However, there’s no denying the fact that a deserving youngster is warming the benches rather than being a part of the action on the field. Also, it’s imperative that Sehwag realises his role in the side. He must be willing to make way for a youngster or to float across the line-up if need be, should he fail to perform at Kolkata and Delhi. Of late, Gambhir too has slackened, but statistics reveal that he could still be an asset in ODIs.

Considering the fact that their bowling department is frail, it’s essential that the Indian batsmen put up formidable scores on the board, and for that to happen, it’s important that the openers fire. Also, the side needs someone who can consolidate by batting at No.5. Roping in Rahane and moving Sehwag into the middle-order could be a shot in the arm.

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)

India tour of England 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Birmingham

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 4, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Leeds

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (19:30 IST)   at Kingstown, St Vincent

More

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 31, 2014  at Harare

Zimbabwe won by 3 wkts

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Dambulla

SL won by 7 wkts (D/L method)

India tour of England 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Nottingham

India won by 6 wkts

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 29, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 61 runs

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Photos

Australia vs Zimbabwe, ODI tri-series at Harare

Videos

Misbah disppointed with Pakistan's performance

Australia’s losses to minnows in limited-overs cricket

India tour of England 2014: Who is Jason Roy?

Zimbabwe’s 12 most memorable victories in international cricket

Zimbabwe vs Australia, 4th ODI: Highlights

Elton Chigumbura-Prosper Utseya partnership takes Zimbabwe to historic win over Australia

Australia Australia and South Africa in Zimbabwe 2014 England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan South Africa Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2014 Zimbabwe vs Australia Zimbabwe vs Australia 2014

Supreme Court gives Mudgal commission two more months to investigate IPL 2013 spot-fixing and betting scandal

Mudgal Committee may recommend Chennai Super Kings expulsion from IPL

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delighted with historic win against Australia

Michael Clarke terms Australia’s performance as ‘terrible’ against Zimbabwe in 4th ODI

India vs England 2014, 4th ODI at Edgbaston: India train indoors due to heavy rains

David Bairstow: A champion claimed by depression

Should Michael Clarke cut down on playing time ahead of ICC World Cup 2015?

Australia’s losses to minnows in limited-overs cricket

India tour of England 2014: Who is Jason Roy?

Zimbabwe’s 12 most memorable victories in international cricket

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

668 Posts | 6 Fans

Yuvraj Singh's ton against MCC

Enforcement Directorate begins probe against a dozen online e-retail firms

Obi S400, Obi S450, Obi S500, Obi Python S452 and Obi Wolverine launched, prices start from Rs 4,200

5 shades of pink lipsticks that every girl should try

Ek Hasina Thi: Why is Sakshi finding satisfaction in Shaurya’s pain?

Michael Clarke says Australia were terrible against Zimbabwe

Centre deliberately denying power to Maharashtra: Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan

8 things that affect your bone health adversely

NGOs pursue education for all

Mudgal Committee may recommend Chennai Super Kings expulsion from IPL

Diesel at almost market price as under-recovery falls to 8 paise

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here