It was not too long ago that Ajinkya Rahane was considered as India’s best Test batsman alongside Virat Kohli, especially when India toured outside the subcontinent. However, in the last couple of years, Rahane’s form has been on the decline. He has struggled quite a bit and his form has largely been scratchy.
It was more than two years ago that Ajinkya Rahane scored a Test century. It came against Sri Lanka and since then, the Mumbai batsman has scored just five half-centuries without reaching the three-figure mark in 28 innings. Since the start of 2018, Rahane averages just 25.14.
However, Rahane has contributed pretty well in some of India’s overseas Test wins in 2018. He scored a gutsy 48 in Johannesburg, 81 at Trent Bridge and 70 in Adelaide – all of which resulted in India’s wins. But apart from these knocks, the Indian Test vice-captain doesn’t have a lot to show. His consistency has affected India quite a bit as well.
Moreover, he has been in iffy form in recent times as well. He played for Hampshire earlier this year in the County Championship Division One. Rahane scored just 307 runs from 13 innings which included one hundred and one fifty. Thus, he has struggled big time and there are a few players who are waiting for an opportunity.
Here are three players who can replace the struggling Ajinkya Rahane in Tests.
Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Twitter)
In recent times, there has been a lot of focus on Shreyas Iyer. He has impressed and staked a claim for the No. 4 spot in the Indian ODI team. However, Iyer’s white-ball exploits have overshadowed his ability and performances in the longer format.
The Mumbai right-hander has an excellent first-class record. He has consistently scored runs for Mumbai and India ‘A’ in the domestic circuit. Iyer averages 52.18 and has a strike-rate of 81.54 in red-ball cricket. In 2015-16, the middle-order batsman scored 1310 runs in the Ranji season which is the third-most in the history of Ranji Trophy cricket. He has continued to do well for Mumbai since.
It was in early 2017 that Iyer smashed an unbeaten 202 against Australia in a tour game. In fact, he was on the verge of a Test debut as well when Virat Kohli was injured in the fourth Test. Iyer has been the captain of India ‘A’ for a while now and has been in and around the Indian side and hence, hasn’t played a lot of red-ball cricket in the last two seasons. However, in whatever little he’s played, he has done well. Thus, Iyer may be a good option to replace Ajinkya Rahane in the middle.
Shubman Gill. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Shubman Gill is perhaps one of the most talked names in Indian cricketing circles in recent times. The teenager from Punjab is barely two years old in the Indian domestic circuit and has wreaked havoc in no time. Gill has taken big strides very early in his career and also made his ODI debut earlier this year in New Zealand.
Right from his younger days, Gill had the hunger to score big runs. He did that at the Under-19 level and also in domestic cricket. Early success has meant Gill is constantly in the India ‘A’ side. Hence, he played just five Ranji games last season. However, despite that, no other Punjab batsman could make an impact like Gill. He amassed 728 runs at an average of 104.00. He scored two hundreds and four half-centuries.
The 19-year-old has been consistently scoring runs across all formats for India ‘A’ as well. It was just a fortnight ago that he smashed a fabulous, scintillating 204. He had walked into bat with India ‘A’ under pressure at 14/3. His unbeaten knock bailed the team out of trouble and put them in a position of strength. Hence, Gill can bat anywhere in the order and has the ability to bat for long hours.
Ruturaj Gaikwad. (Photo Source: Twitter)
An average of 38.71 may not be great in first-class cricket from 12 first-class games. It may not be a big enough sample size to judge a player. However, the ability and temperament that Ruturaj Gaikwad has shown is excellent. He has been pretty consistent over the last year or so and has made a mark.
Gaikwad made his first-class debut for Maharashtra in the 2016-17 season. However, he played just one red-ball game and failed. But he was given an opportunity in the Vijay Hazare Trophy later that season and he shone brightly. Since then, he hasn’t looked back. He had a middling Ranji season in 2017-18 but he did very well last season.
In the 2018-19 Ranji season, Gaikwad scored 456 runs at an average of 45.60 as he moved all over the batting line-up. Moreover, he has been consistently scoring runs for India ‘A’ in white-ball cricket. He has the ability to bat long and bat big. Moreover, the 22-year-old Maharashtra batsman can bat anywhere in the line-up. Thus, he may be a good option to replace the out-of-form Ajinkya Rahane.
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