What’s the story?
Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke has backed under-fire Indian cricketers Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma ahead of the second Test. He said Rahane is a terrific player and earned his place in the team. While taking about Ishant, Clarke claimed that the lanky pacer deserves to be in the playing XI.
He also said that India would have realised that they have to work hard to beat Australia and need to keep Australia’s big 4 (David Warner, Steve Smith, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc) at bay to get the better of the Aussies.
"Rahane is a terrific player, India will give him another opportunity. He's earned that right. Ishant deserves to be in this team. He is a wonderful bowler, bowled really well against England. India need to combat four big players in the Australian team - (Steve) Smith, (David) Warner, (Mitchell) Starc and (Josh) Hazlewood. India now know they have to be at their best to beat Australia," said Clarke on the eve of the match.
In case you didn’t know...
Going into the four-match Test series as the favourites to whitewash Australia, India lost the first Test in Pune by 333 runs after Aussie spinner Steve O’Keefe ran through the Indian batting line-up in both the innings and ended up taking 12 wickets in the match. Aussie skipper Steve Smith scored a century in the second innings and took his team to a decent position. Coming into the second Test, the pressure is on Kohli’s men to turn the table and equal the series score going into the Ranchi Test.
The heart of the matter
In spite of being India’s best Test player away from home, Ajinkya Rahane has failed to replicate his success in India as he has often struggled to get going against the spinners on tracks that assist them. Even in the first Test against Australia, Rahane was clueless about the spin of the ball that got his wicket as he tried to flick the ball to the leg side and ended up top-edging it to the gully fielder.
In the second innings, he played few delightful shots before offering the cover fielder a simple catch. His place in the XI has come under the cloud, especially after Karun Nair’s 300 against England. Coach Anil Kumble has backed Rahane and confirmed that he will be a part of the playing XI for the Bengaluru Test.
On the other hand, Ishant Sharma was not used properly in the first Test as he bowled just 14 runs in both the innings combined, something that is too less for a bowler who spearheads the attack.
Video credits: Indian cricket team Facebook page
Without a doubt, Ajinkya Rahane is an integral part of the Indian Test team in the last few years. He has saved the team from blushes on several occasions. Failure is a part and parcel of a sportsman’s life and Rahane will look to improve on his so-called weakness, spin bowling.
As Kumble said, it will be unfair to drop Rahane from the XI just after one Test match (he scored a valiant 82 against Bangladesh last month). When it comes to Ishant Sharma, the team management might pick Bhuvneshwar Kumar instead of the Delhi pacer for the second Test.