Should Ajinkya Rahane be picked in India’s playing XI for the WTC final?

Should Ajinkya Rahane be picked in India’s playing XI for the WTC final?

Ajinkya Rahane's form in the recent past in Test match cricket has been a massive cause of concern for Virat Kohli and his men.

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Right then. So, the talk surrounding the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has slowly died down, and the next thing that the entire cricketing world will look forward to is the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) that will take place between India and New Zealand at Southampton on 18th June 2021.

A lot of discussions have been held around India’s squad that has been picked for the WTC final. Some people have opined that Prithvi Shaw was unlucky to have missed out on a berth in India’s squad for the WTC final, while there were also talks around the omission of all-rounder Hardik Pandya as well.

But then, in all this hullabaloo, one question has slipped under the carpet. And that is, does Ajinkya Rahane deserve a place in the Indian playing XI for the summit clash against New Zealand? Yes, Rahane is the vice-captain of the Indian Test side and is a veteran who has played 73 Test matches for India. But then, his form in the recent past in Test match cricket has been a massive cause of concern for Virat Kohli and his men.

Ajinkya Rahane’s misery in the whites in 2021

To put it bluntly, Ajinkya Rahane has struggled in the white flannels with the willow for India in the Test arena in 2021. In the table below, let us take a look at Rahane’s performances with the bat in 2021.

Innings Runs Average 50s 100s
10 199 19.90 1 0

From the above table, it is evident that Rahane has not been at his best with the willow in 2021. In the 10 innings that the diminutive right-hander has played this year, he has scored just 199 runs and averages under 20. Also, in 8 out of the 10 innings that he has played this year, Rahane has been dismissed for a score of below 30. Also, in 4 out of his last 10 Test innings, Rahane has not even scored in double figures.

Ajinkya Rahane’s poor record on England soil

The summit clash of the World Test Championship (WTC) will take place in England, and when we look at Rahane’s numbers in England in Test cricket, it does not paint a very bright picture. In the table below, let us take a look at Rahane’s overall record on England soil in Test cricket.

Innings Runs Average 100s 50s 0s
20 556 29.26 1 4 2

Ajinkya Rahane’s struggles on English soil are evident from the above table. In the 20 innings that he has played in England, the right-hander has aggregated just 556 runs. Also, Rahane averages under 30 in Tests played in England and has been dismissed for a duck on 2 occasions as well.

But then, we have just touched the surface. Let us go a little deeper. In the table below, let us take a look at Rahane’s run of scores in his last 10 Test innings on England soil in Test match cricket to arrive at further conclusions.

Start Date of Test Match Runs Balls Faced Strike Rate
1st August 2018 15 34 44.11
1st August 2018 2 16 12.50
9th August 2018 18 44 40.90
9th August 2018 13 33 39.39
18th August 2018 81 131 61.83
18th August 2018 29 94 30.85
30th August 2018 11 14 78.57
30th August 2018 51 159 32.07
7th September 2018 0 8 0.00
7th September 2018 37 106 34.90

In his last Test 10 innings in England, Rahane has aggregated just 257 runs at an underwhelming average of 25.70. Also, out of his last 10 innings on England soil, the 32-year-old has recorded as many as 7 scores of below 30. And, Rahane has not even faced 50 deliveries in 6 out of his last 10 innings in England, and his inability to spend sufficient time out in the middle is a cause for concern as well. And surely, these are numbers that a batsman of Ajinkya Rahane’s caliber will definitely not be proud of.

Should India drop Ajinkya Rahane from the playing XI for the WTC Final?

Needless to say, the Indian side will want to put their best 11 players out on the field when they take on Kane Williamson’s New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC). And, going by his form in 2021 as well as his struggles in Tests played on England soil, Ajinkya Rahane might not warrant a place in the Indian Test side.

But then, will Virat Kohli and the team management bite the bullet and take the brave decision of leaving out the vice-captain of the Indian Test team? Well, we will get our answer on 18th June 2021.