Ajinkya Rahane’s dream to play for India again hasn’t ebbed a bit, he says after a double hundred at Ranji Trophy, but he also said another interesting angle. That the averages of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahane has dipped in the last three years because of the nature of the Indian pitches where they have played a lot of Test cricket.
“There was no mistake (in his style of batting that his average dipped), we were playing in India for the last three years. If you look at the players who are batting at number three, four or five their average has come down because of the wickets. Pujji-Virat and my (Pujara, Kohli) averages have come down,” Rahane said.
“I don’t think there were many mistakes; it’s not every time that we are committing the mistakes. Sometimes the wickets are such, this is no excuse but everyone saw the kind of wickets we had in India,” the middle-order batsman added.
The 34-year old Rahane has played 82 Tests for India in which 17 were played in the last three years. In the 2020-21 season his average was 29.23 in 14 innings (8 Test) while in 2021 it dipped further to 19 in nine innings (5 Test). In the 2021-22 season he averaged 21.87 in eight innings (4 Test). The only century that came from him was in the Australian tour in 2021 while two half centuries came in the past three years.
Out of 17 Test matches played since February 2021, five were played in India where the Indian team played England and New Zealand at home. Rahane scored only one half century in nine innings.
“As a batsman it is always challenging especially if you are batting as a middle-order. For openers it’s easy. It’s because of a hard ball but when a batsman gets out, we tend to think where did we do wrong.”
Rahane’s latest Ranji innings (204 against Hyderabad) came in 261 balls with 26 fours and three sixes as Mumbai declared on 651/6. Rahane wasn’t the only one taking the honours with the bat. Sarfaraz Khan remained unbeaten on 126.
Rahane said he didn’t want to prove anything. “ I don’t want to prove anything but one thing is sure, I will never give up.”
He said he wants to return to the style of batting he would play in his younger days.
“I have scored whenever the team wanted to in crucial positions and we have won the games. Double ton is special, the way I was timing the ball. The way I wanted to, it has gone that way. I thought about my old innings of under-19 and Ranji Trophy. I want to go as close to that.”
Rahane said that he has been looking up his old diaries to see what notes he had made from those old innings to take cues.
“I have a habit of making notes whenever I have scored or not, I’m going through that now,” he adds.
The Indian team currently seems to have moved on from Rahane and it will be interesting to track his progress.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad had a tough day with the bat too. Chasing a mammoth first innings total, the visitors are 173/6 at stumps with left arm spinner Shams Mulani taking five wicket haul.
Brief Scores: Day 2: Mumbai 651/6 (Ajinkya Rahane 204, Sarfaraz Khan 126 not out) vs Hyderabad 173/6 (Rohit Rayudu 72; Shams Mulani 5/76).