The Test vice-captain brings experience and a calm head, but does he have the stats to back that up?

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India’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign culminated in a disappointing semi-final loss to New Zealand after an uncharacteristic top order collapse. The Indian side were 24/4 at one point and probably struggled to revitalize the innings due to the lack of a composed, experienced player in the middle-order.

The loss further augmented the age-old debate of India’s inability to find a steady batsman at number four. After trying a host of players who could bat behind Virat Kohli in the limited overs format, the Indian team fixed on KL Rahul to play in that position at the 2019 edition.

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But following an injury to Shikar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant was roped in to play that number four role with Rahul opening the innings. Pant, although exceptionally talented, lacks the experience and the cool head necessary to play at the highest level; and that was heightened in the semi-final. He got caught out in the deep playing a rash shot off Mitchell Santner.

During this middle-order conundrum, there were talks of giving India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane a recall to white-ball cricket. The Mumbai based cricketer brings the needed experience to the table, having played a previous World Cup in 2015. He averages a decent 35.3 in ODI cricket and has played many crucial innings under pressure in the past.

Nevertheless, this World Cup would have been a horrible time to rekindle Rahane into the first team, and this is why.

Score

Team

Opposition

Date

 

 

 

 

4, 3

Hampshire

Warwickshire

6th July, 2019

55, 8

Hampshire

Somerset

30th June, 2019

0, 0

Hampshire

Essex

16th June, 2019

34

Hampshire

Notts

9th June, 2019

31, 0

Hampshire

Yorkshire

27th May, 2019

This has been Rahane’s performance in the County Championship taking place in England in the past five games, playing in his preferred format against lesser opposition as compared to the International stage, sans the pressure of a World Cup.

Rahane’s problem? The swinging ball.

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He may be experienced and have the luxury of playing a previous World Cup, but Rahane wouldn’t have hit well in this Indian setup because of his inability to play genuine swing bowlers. The middle-order batsman also lacks the ability to go aggressive and hit the big sixes when the time demands. Thus compared to the likes of Hardik Pandya or Pant, he would have been a lesser asset.  

Feature image courtesy: AFP Photo/ Sajjad Hussain