India needing a Rahane advance up

by Cricket Hive author 302 views

It's the era of memes. And Virat Kohli's knocks provided social media with enough to batter the platforms with many. Virat Kohli is Amitabh Bachchan, carrying the rest of the Indian team on his head and shoulders. Kohli is India's fab five. He is Jon Snow ready to take on an entire cavalry by himself. He is Bahubali, carrying the team. He is Superman. He is Vadivelu, the Tamil comedian. Kohli is everywhere, and after such a performance it's no surprise why.

But the other constant in the memes were the rest of the top order. Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane. Ajinkya Rahane - the team's vice captain, the vital link between top and lower order, the overseas specialist.

He may have been one of many in the match to not have succeeded with the bat, but it was the manner in which he got out that was more worrisome. In the first innings, Rahane started off as everyone expected Rahane to. He played late, defended right under his eyes and brought a sense of calm after Sam Curran's terrific three-wicket burst had brought India to its knees. He looked to have gotten the hang of things early into his innings. He played for Curran's inswingers, and even spotted the ones that were angled away and safely let them pass.

It was only when Ben Stokes was introduced into the attack that Rahane's rhythm and surety decided to desert him and take a walk instead. He was surprised by the one that came in rapidly, further exaggerated by Stokes's angle and tilt while bowling, and was lucky to survive. Rahane was all over the place after. He started poking outside off, inside edging the ones that came back in and got into awkward positions when Stokes bowled short. 14 consecutive deliveries from Stokes later, Rahane got his first runs - an edge past slip. Off the next ball, he wafted outside off and was caught at third slip. It was a ball, Rahane wouldn't have usually played at even if he was batting on 140. But pressure does funny things.

Rahane's second innings needs a one-word sum up - tentativeness. 16 balls, 2 runs, out inside-edging a wide delivery when the situation screamed for someone to apply himself and give Kohli company.

It certainly hasn't been the Rahane Indian cricket fans have gotten used to. Only last year, Virat Kohli had spoken about how Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, in his opinion, were India's two best Test batsmen. That was immediately after he made an attacking hundred on a dry SSC track against Sri Lanka. Since then, Rahane's top score has been 48. Pujara, on the other hand, finds himself outside the team.

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