Ajinkya Rahane: India’s unsung hero in recent years

In the last 2 years, Ajinkya Rahane has an away average of 41 while Virat and Cheteshwar have an average of just 24.15 and 26.36 respectively.

Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

There is a saying ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. This proverb seems to be designed to describe Ajinkya Madhukar Rahane. How many times have we seen India reeling at 50/3 and he somehow stands tall and plays out that exceptionally tough passage of time to even go on to put India on top. That is what Test cricket is all about.

When a few wickets are lost in a hurry, it’s about damage control and there are few players better than him in that. The Indian skipper Virat Kohli himself said several times that Ajinkya ‘is our most important Test batsman’. Yet, he has been subjected to severe trolling by the fans, apart from being constantly criticized by the pundits.

Top Performances by Ajinkya Rahane

The Arjuna award winner’s contributions to Indian cricket are huge, yet he doesn’t seem to get the credit and recognition he deserves for them. He has played a massive role in some of India’s iconic moments in Test cricket in the past few years.

In 2014, at the initial stages of his career, he was at the forefront of India’s first win at Lord’s after 28 years, setting the game up with a solid 103 in the first innings on a green pitch, when the second-highest run-scorer in the innings was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with 36. Later that year, his score of 147 at the MCG and the partnership of 262 runs with Virat when Mitchell Johnson was all but firing bullets at them ensured that India was able to draw the match in the second innings.

This year, when everyone expected the Indians to roll over for a 0–4 loss against the Aussies after the infamous 36 all out, as the captain of the side, the Dombivli lad-led the team to a 2–1 series win, starting the second Test by scoring a commanding 112 run knock when India was struggling at 64/3. In the World Test Championship Final when India lost 3 wickets in the span of 26 runs, he came in and top-scored in the innings with 49 runs.

Even in the 4th test at the Gabba, his quick-fire 24 was what changed the momentum of the game, said Sunil Gavaskar on air. Again in the second innings of the second Test of the ongoing England series, when India was on the brink of losing at 55/3 when his position in the side was under question, he top-scored in the innings with 61 runs to control the damage and set the game up for day 5.

Number’s Game of Ajinkya Rahane

In the last 2 years, Ajinkya has an away average of 41 while Virat and Cheteshwar have an average of just 24.15 and 26.36 respectively. He scored 1226 runs at an average of 40.87 in the last 2 years, next only to Rohit Sharma for India. He is also the leading run-scorer for India in the WTC 2019–21 season, scoring 1095 runs at an average of 43.8. Yet unfortunately, the Mumbaikar’s place in the side has remained under the scanner.

The Maverick

He may be low on confidence, he may be slightly under pressure but this knock of 61 invaluable runs under pressure will give him a lot of confidence going forward. He knows he needs to capitalize on it and make sure that he continues to give his team the solidity he provides in the middle-order.

He may not be animated on the field. He may not have tattooed arms. He may not be the ‘cool guy’ in the dressing room. He may not have a big fan base arguing that he is the best in the world. He is the savior whenever the team needs him. He is the one who thrives in adverse circumstances. In an era when power and pizzazz are the norms, Ajinkya Rahane, incredibly, is the maverick and arguably India’s most complete batsman in the post-Tendulkar era.

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