Virat Kohli (L) and Ajinkya Rahane © AFP
Virat Kohli (L) and Ajinkya Rahane © AFP

In 2017, Ajinkya Rahane averaged a mere 34.62. Critics tore him apart, and wanted team management to take a tough call against one-of-the-best-overseas-players from current India lineup ahead of first Test versus South Africa. India went ahead with Rohit Sharma who flopped in both outings. Rohit’s failures have again tilted the tables in Rahane’s favour. Ahead of the second Test at Centurion, the call is clear: bring back Rahane.

To bolster Rahane’s case, he averages nearly 70 in South Africa. Many were shocked to see his exclusion at Cape Town, but went with it owing to his poor form. Now the same people are voicing their opinion in favour of the right-hander.

As a result, India captain Virat Kohli took a dig at critics questioning Rahane’s exclusion in the first Test against South Africa. He stated that those who wanted his deputy’s omission are now pressing hard for his comeback.

“It’s funny how things change in a matter of weeks, or just about five days. Before the first Test no-one thought that he should be in the eleven and now suddenly people are looking at the other option. For us as a team, it’s all about finding the right balance. If players fit in in the kind of balance we want to go in with as a side, then they will fit in. We certainly don’t go on opinions that are created outside, and talk of the town and all those sort of things.

He (Rahane) is a quality player. He has done well in South Africa, in all conditions actually away from home. He is probably been our most consistent and solid player away from home,” affirmed Kohli.

The Rohit-Rahane saga

Kohli repeated that Rohit played in the tour opener due to his current form. ”I explained the reasons why Rohit started ahead of him. I am not saying that Ajinkya cannot or will not start in this game. Possibilities are all open at the moment and we shall decide after practice.”

Kohli dropped hints that there might be changes in the playing XI after a 72-run defeat versus South Africa at Cape Town.

“As far as the opening combination goes, we will decide today at the end of practice what is it that we are going to go within this game. We might do something different also but there is definitely no need to panic.

The Centurion track promises ample pace and bounce, but doesn’t have as much grass unlike the Newlands’ wicket, reckons Kohli.

The skipper feels that despite the flaws committed at Cape Town, his batting unit remains confident.

“I feel that definitely the batting order, through mistakes we committed in the first game and through the experience we gained in the first game, we are certainly in a much better shape to come at their bowling attack in this Test,” Kohli added.

One of India’s long standing issues have been their sloppy slip fielding. It was a hindrance even in a highly-successful home season. India dropped one catch in Cape Town Test, and Kohli defended his teammates yet again.

“I am not going to sit here and talk about the last one year. The last game was pretty good, apart from one dropped catch from Shikhar in the first innings, which we looked at as a team. We want to plug all those game. What’s happened in the last year does not matter. What matters is what we are going to do from tomorrow onwards to try and win this Test match,” concluded Kohli.