Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ajinkya Rahane: The Quick Turnaround or Setup for Failure

June 20, 2015 
Ajinkya Rahane is dropped from the playing XI for the second ODI against Bangladesh. Captain Dhoni explains the decision "We have seen that he plays a lot better on pitches that have some pace. But on a slow pitch, whenever he has batted at No. 4 or 5, he does have a problem in freely rotating the strike at the start of his innings. I think Ajinkya will have to wait."

June 29, 2015
Ajinkya Rahane is appointed captain of the Indian team to tour Zimbabwe.

That must have been one of the quickest turnaround in player fortunes ever witnessed in the history of the game. From being dropped to being appointed captain albeit of a team which has rested most of the senior players, within a week must be some sort of a record. Also does his elevation imply that he is on pole as Virat Kohli's deputy in Tests?

But from the squad selected for the series, one gets a feeling that Rahane has almost been up for failure. A victory against Zimbabwe will mean nothing, even if achieved with a second string team. However, failure to win might end up some careers. 

The absence of a genuine wicket-keeper is an obvious hole in the squad. Seems like we might be going back to post-Mongia period when the keeping duties became a musical chairs with many new keepers (Prasad, Karim, Dasgupta, Dahiya, Dighe, Ratra, Patel) being tried and ultimately the job getting handed to a specialist batsman like Dravid.

There are two intriguing selections - Harbhajan Singh and Manoj Tiwary. Picking up Harbhajan seems a sign that his rehabilitation into the national squad is complete, although no numbers justify his cause, and also shows the paucity of spin options in the country. Manoj Tiwary makes his umpteenth comeback into the national squad. In fact the man has made more comebacks than play actual games for the country. Seems to be one destined to be forever on the fringes and yet is always there on the fore-front when the seniors take a break.

In all, lots of weird selections. The chosen ones have to perform well. But good performance will only ensure that they stay on the fringes because the places will be taken up by returning senior players. And if they perform badly, they will be out of reckoning for quite some time (Case in point, the team picked for the 2010 tour to Zimbabwe). And Rahane as captain, certainly has his task cut out, with his own place (in limited overs) at stake as well. 

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