Could Ajinkya Rahane potentially make a comeback?

Once considered as the most dependable batsman in the Indian middle order, Ajinkya Rahane gained fame after scoring centuries at Lord’s and the MCG during the 2014 tours to England and Australia.

Despite his earlier successes, Rahane’s form has significantly declined in recent years, leading to his exclusion from the Indian team. The last time he played for India was during the Cape Town Test in January 2022.

In this analysis, we will examine the reasons behind the decline of the former Indian vice-captain and assess his prospects for a potential comeback.

At what point did Ajinkya Rahane’s fortunes begin to decline?

Ajinkya Rahane, 34, has participated in 82 Test matches for India, amassing 4931 runs at an average of 38.52. He has recorded 25 fifties and 12 centuries during his career, which can be divided into two distinct halves: the period prior to his highest Test score of 188 against New Zealand at Indore in October 2016, and the period that follows.

That match marked the 29th Test appearance of Rahane’s career, and the statistical trends that followed have been clearly negative. Below is a detailed breakdown of his performance in his initial 29 Tests compared to the subsequent 53.

Since the beginning of 2020, his average has dropped to 24, and the numbers have continued to plummet.

Some of the other Indian batsmen have better abilities to play quality spin bowling than Rahane, resulting in his unremarkable record in India. According to cricket experts, a technical flaw in his batting – his half-step forward trigger movement – causes him trouble when the ball moves late.

Is it still possible for Rahane to make a comeback into the Indian team?

Rahane faces a challenging task to make a comeback into the Indian side as Shreyas Iyer has secured the No.5 spot, and the competition for the position is fierce. Although Hanuma Vihari demonstrated courage with his Sydney performance in 2021, he hasn’t had sufficient opportunities since then. Furthermore, Rahane, who will be 35 this year, is disadvantaged by his age.

By choosing Suryakumar Yadav instead of the senior player when Iyer was injured for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2023, the team management’s decision suggests that the opportunity for Rahane may have already passed.

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