Rahane, Rahul gear up for Proteas challenge at Super Sport Park


Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul in India’s optional practice session today. Image Source: BCCI

Internet Desk: The ignored duo of Indian opener KL Rahul and middle order batsman Ajinkya Rahane joined India’s optional practice session today at Newlands after the visitors lost to South Africa in the first Test by 72 runs, thanks to a brilliant bowling by Vernon Philander in the second innings.

Beside them star pacer Ishant Sharma and back-up wicket-keeper batsman Parthiv Patel too joined the practice. Assistant coach Sanjay Bangar and bowling coach Bharat Arun joined them in the session which lasted for one and half hours.

In the first Test the Indian team management gave chances to Shikhar Dhawan in the opening slot in place of KL Rahul, on the other hand Rohit Sharma got the chance on the basis of his current form ahead of Ajinkya Rahane. Though both of them failed miserably well as they scored 32 and 21 in two innigs respectively.

Rahul and Rahane both batted in the adjoining nets, alternating between throw-downs and facing throw-downs as well as net bowlers. Ishant Sharma also bowled. Patel was last to join in the batting sessions.

There are chances that both Dhawan and Rohit might have to make way for Rahane and Rahul as there are added pressure on the team management too for their inclusion in the playing XI. As-off now Dhawan’s avarage in the overseas is not that good. In South Africa he has played three Test matches till now where he scored 108 runs with an average of 18. Beside that he scored 167 runs in three matches where his average was 27.83 and in England his average is 20.33. He scored 122 runs in 3 matches there. On the other hand, Rahul has quite a good record in Australia, he played a knock of 110 runs in the fourth Test in Sydney during India’s tour of Australia. It was his only tour in Australia where he scored 110 runs in two matches where his average was 32.50. This is Rahul’s first tour of South Africa and he hasn’t toured in England till now.

Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma was in tremendous form at home against Sri Lanka and the team gave him the chance ahead of Rahane in the first Test against South Africa. In South Africa he has played three matches till now where he has managed to score only 66 runs with an average of only 11. His stats in Australia is not that good too, Rohit scored 173 runs in three matches with an average of 28.83. Beside that he was also a part of the Test squad in New Zealand. He played 2 matches there and scored 122 runs with an average of 40.66. In England Rohit had only played 1 match and scored 34 runs and his average was 17. Though, Rahane had a bad show against Sri Lanka in the Test series at home, but his ability of scoring runs in the overseas tours is just astonishing. Rahane only toured once in South Africa ahead of this series. He played two Test matches on Proteas soil and scored 209 runs with an average of 69.66. His heighest score was 96 in the last tour. His best performance came against England at their own backyard as his brilliant ton  helped the nation to beat England at Lord’s back in 2014. Rahane played 5 matches in England and scored 299 runs with an average of 33.22 and his best score was 103. In Australia Rahane played 4 matches and scored 399 runs and his average was 63.53 which is astonishing for any batsman there. It’s quite clear that Rahane’s inclusion in the team would definitely give them a stability in the middle order.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli had put down vice-captain Rahane’s absence to form as Rohit scored three hundreds across all formats in the preceding Sri Lanka series at home.

“Well, we decided to go on current form,” was India captain Virat Kohli’s logic behind picking Rohit ahead of Rahane. “Rohit has scored runs in the last three Tests he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka,” he said.

The interesting add-on here is Shikhar Dhawan’s twin failure in the first Test. In both innings, he was squared up with short deliveries and ended up offering simple looped-up catches.

“Well, the left-right combination always helps, that’s what we felt. It’s difficult for the bowlers to set their lines and lengths every time with the strike rotating well.

“It has worked for us in the recent past. We have to try and create plans that we feel will not let the opposition gain momentum very early on in the game and that’s the idea behind it,” Kohli had explained.

It remains to be seen if how many of the two – Rahul and Rahane – come into contention after the disappointing loss at Newlands. The second Test will be played in Centurion from January 13.

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