What’s the story?
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has attributed Ajinkya Rahane’s inadequate recent form to a drop in confidence levels. The 44-year old urged the Mumbaikar to have an introspection when the final Test against Australia in Dharamsala comes to an end.
“He is scratchy. It is not the Rahane we have seen over a long period of time. Think about the Rahane at Lord's (2014) where it was seaming, decking, bouncing and he just batted as if it was a different track. Imagine his hundreds in Australia.
“He is just a bit out of the place at the moment, maybe mentally. The confidence has gone down a bit because he hasn't had a good series against England (and now) he hasn't had a good series so far by his standards”, Ganguly told India Today.
He added, “I think it is not the Rahane (we know) but he is surviving, he is trying hard, he is competing – typical Mumbai khadoosness (stubbornness) as they say. But we have seen a better Rahane. And I think once this series finishes, he will probably will have to sit down and find a way to relax and get his mind back on track.”
Usually a reliable batsman in the middle-order, Rahane has struggled for runs during the latter part of the home season. After amassing 347 runs in three matches against New Zealand including a career-best score of 188 in Indore, he lost his way in the subsequent series against England and Australia.
The heart of the matter
Rahane could only manage 63 runs from the first three Tests against England before getting sidelined due to a finger injury. Even though he showed glimpses of returning to form with an 82 against Bangladesh in the one-off match in Hyderabad, the right-hander’s batting concerns have been exacerbated in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Despite contributing 52 in a game-changing partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara in Bengaluru, he has managed only 160 runs from 6 innings so far at a measly average of 26.66.
For the series decider in Dharamsala, he has had to take up the captaincy mantle as regular skipper Virat Kohli refrained from risking his troubled shoulder. While his field placements and bowling changes have been spot on until now, the 28-year old squandered a massive opportunity to drive Australia out of the game in India’s first-innings.
After compiling 46 scratchy runs, he was undone by a Nathan Lyon delivery.
With the Dharamsala Test pretty much shaping into a tense affair, Rahane has one more opportunity to make a huge contribution when India get their second innings underway.
Having ridden on the crests and troughs in an eventful career, Ganguly is well aware of the issues plaguing Rahane at the moment. With only the IPL in his agenda for the next two months, he should take heed of the former captain’s advice and introspect on his recent performances once the Dharamsala Test is complete.