In the series-deciding third Test against South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town, Team Indian Test specialist Ajinkya Rahane looked befuddled after scoring a valiant half-century in the previous match in Johannesburg. He has not been playing great cricket in recent times and the fans have been angry as to why the player has been picked in the team, over and over again.
The middle-order batsman managed only 10 runs in two innings in the series-deciding third Test against South Africa. After being caught by captain Dean Elgar at first slip off Kagiso Rabada in the second innings, he walked back for only one run in the third innings. This hurt the team that was not playing great live cricket, as a unit.
Given the fact that Rahane’s deteriorating form is adding extra pressure to the Indian batting order, former cricketer turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar believes Rahane should return to first-class cricket to restore his lost touch. Sanjay Manjrekar said that his dismissal in the current match was a result of a mix of a solid delivery and the middle-order batter’s form, which he believes is the case.
Pujara, in my opinion, has a greater case than Rahane: Sanjay Manjrekar
“He has to go back into first-class cricket and perhaps rekindle his mojo. Rahane would not get another chance in my opinion. Pujara has a better case,” Sanjay Manjrekar said.
“There has been nothing about Rahane in the previous 3-4 years that gives me a reason to believe that he is returning to form. There have been glimmers of hope, such as when he scored a hundred runs in Melbourne. But outside from that, there’s not much.”
Since his match-winning 112 against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last year, Ajinkya Rahane has been unable to produce any significant performances, notably in the ICC World Test Championship final, the test series against England, and the ongoing Test series against South Africa.
The team crumbled under the pressure and it showed; nothing worked
A mere 547 runs from 15 matches, at an average of barely 20.25, were all that the former Indian Test vice-captain could muster in 2021. When it comes to red-ball cricket, although the Mumbai player has managed to achieve three half-centuries, with his highest score being 67, he has been removed at single-digit scores on 11 occasions, putting an undue amount of pressure on the middle and lower-order.
Returning to the Cape Town Test, India needs eight more wickets to complete their historic victory over the ‘Final Frontier,’ and they will be buoyed by their dismissal of Proteas captain Dean Elgar shortly before stumps on Day 3. The visitors are well situated at 101/2 after chasing 212 on a track that offers variable bounce. Keegan Pietersen, who is in good form, is looking forward to spearheading the pursuit.
What next for the Indian side; can they recover from this massive defeat?
New skipper of Team India, Rohit Sharma and the BCCI have made it clear that they want to focus on having young players in the squad. Their plan is a long-term one and that is how they want to go about it. With that being said, there could be a lot of changes coming up in the next few months.
The team is being built with regards to the upcoming T20 World Cup. Rahul Dravid and co. are right now identifying all-rounders who could be long-term solutions to any problems that may arise with regards to the balance of the team.
Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur are tagged the new all-rounders for the side. Another brilliant talent, Ravindra Jadeja will be part of the squad for the upcoming series, post the one against West Indies at home. With that being said, the Indian side will be focused on getting some big wins under their belt, ahead of the upcoming ICC tournament.
They will want to forget what happened in the T20 World Cup 2021 and move on quickly. With the change in leadership, will come the increase in expectations and it will be up to the players to deliver now. Let’s wait and watch whether the change up top can make a real impact or the end product is more results like some of the past ones!!