Which version of Ajinkya Rahane will turn up against New Zealand?

How did such a calm batsman, one who conducted himself akin to a vigilant guard in the middle order become a constant gatherer of 20s and 30s?

Dev Tyagi Author

Updated - 24 November 2021 5:34 pm

Highlights
  • If one were to look at Ajinkya Rahane’s Test career in two halves, then the following picture comes to light.
  • In only half a decade of playing Test cricket, Rahane scored well over half of his runs.

Will this be the batsman who will do more than just hang in there in the middle, but contribute meaningfully to his team?

Among the narratives slated to define the context of the upcoming series against New Zealand, the one around Ajinkya Rahane is poised to be a big one.

There's a reason for it.

If one were to look at Ajinkya Rahane’s Test career in two halves, then the following picture comes to light.

It’s been a career checkered by two halves, none of which look like the other.

How’s that?

In the first half of his notable journey, Rahane scored 2826 of his 4700 plus runs in just 5 years.

Circa 2013 to 2017!

In only half a decade of playing Test cricket, Rahane scored well over half of his runs. It’s in this half that Rahane scored over 800 runs in a calendar year, a mighty feat. It’s the very part where a career-best 188 came to life.

This was peak Ajinkya Rahane.

So what happened in the other half, circa 2018 to 2021?

Truth must be told, this is the telling remainder of his career where a batting average that generally speaking, remained north of 44, began to drop drastically.

Before dropping to the 30s, it would remain 34, soon after which it would fall to 19, which is exactly the case where Rahane’s 2021 run stands at the moment.

The key question, therefore, surrounding one of India’s nicest, quietest and sincerest cricketers is this:

Which Ajinkya Rahane is going to come to the fore for India?

The one who batted with a sense of responsibility and calmness (amid adversity) or the one who’s batting, practically speaking, to save a fledgling career?

This precisely is going to be one of the questions that will draw the attention of the intrepid cricket fan as also of the critics that Rahane has earned in the last few years.

Little can anyone else be blamed for what’s happened to Ajinkya Rahane.

For no one, not his most impassioned supporter nor his most acerbic critics can say that the man hasn’t been given a chance.

On the contrary, being entrusted with the task of being the vice-captain, Rahane has been looked after and promoted, which often happens to talents that beckon respect.

And make no mistake- Rahane warrants a lot of regards.

The most non-dramatic, simple, polite figure in a team that’s considered a mighty powerhouse of Cricket, Rahane made a reputation for himself for being the unperturbed lad who loved focusing hard.

It’s not that he wasn’t tasked with a lot of cricket.

During Dravid’s helm as the leader of the Rajasthan Royals, Rahane doubled up as an able big-hitting and yet, technically sound opener alongside Samson whilst still holding steady ground as India’s dependable middle-order Test batsman.

He was in his groove. The one cutting away at anything bowled short, the man unafraid to pull the red cherry.

It’s during this time that he struck eight of his twelve Test hundreds.  He didn’t just face but stood up against the likes of Johnson, Lyon, Steyn, Roach, Morkel and company.

Over the years, innings like his valiant 112 at Melbourne with all the pressure in the world in a Kohli-less India being on his shoulders have defined the man.

But outings, where he’s been found wanting and at the loss of performances, have underlined a fine career with ceaseless doubt.

This has, therefore, birthed a question that if not solved, will birth a perpetual maze that none would desire to see elongate.

How did such a calm batsman, one who conducted himself akin to a vigilant guard in the middle order become a constant gatherer of 20s and 30s, and if great fortune found a way, then an occasional 40?

What went wrong? When and how?

We know nothing of that.

What we know is the following:

Rahane’s last 5 Test outcomes read- 0, 14, 10, 18 and 61.

His returns during a not-so English August!

Previously in the same series, he managed a 1 and 5.

In the series before, one against New Zealand, the opponent he’s due to contest, he gathered a 49 before slipping down to another lowly 15.

Over the years, Rahane has quietly dipped into being a lonesome figure. Someone for whom you may actually feel sorry, instead of being a personality that would inspire great confidence.

Think the Dravid during his 233 and 72 against Australia in Australia vis-à-vis the one who Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle constantly challenged by chipping away at his stumps, in 2012.

The situation is clear.

Rahane must rise to the occasion. Pujara is already under pressure. There’s no Kohli and where the last few hours revealed, then no Rahul too. Who else but Rahane will be expected to script a glorious comeback?

He truly can. And must. And where it stands, then at 33 years and 171 days (as of November 24, 2021), the time is running out as well.