Thursday, March 2, 2017

2nd Test: Anil Kumble bats for Ajinkya Rahane, but is sad for Karun Nair

 Team India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane jumps to take a catch during practice in Bangalore yesterday. Pic/AFP
Team India vice-captain Ajinkya  Rahane jumps to  take a catch during  practice in Bangalore yesterday. Pic/AFP

Bangalore: In the Indian team of the late 90s and 2000s, VVS Laxman, one of India’s greatest ever talents with bat in hand and a man for any crisis situation, was, in public perception, invariably the fall guy. Laxman was the first to get the axe whenever, for some or the other reason, the team composition needed to be changed.

Similar is the case with Ajinkya Rahane. The Mumbaikar is not as gifted as Laxman but has played a similar role on many occasions – batting his side out of trouble all around the world, playing with the late middle order and sometime with the tail.

Again, just like it was with Laxman, there are calls for Rahane’s head, because post Indore, where he scored 188 against New Zealand, he has scores of 13, 1, 23, 26, 82, 28, 13 and 18. But as far as the team goes and more for coach Anil Kumble, Rahane will remain an automatic pick for now and some more time to come.

Asked if there was a possibility of Rahane being benched and Chennai Test triple centurion Karun Nair included in his place, if the need for a sixth batsman didn’t arise, Kumble in his typical aggressive style shot back: “I think there’s no question of looking at dropping Rahane. He’s been extremely successful over the last couple of years and there’s absolutely no question about that.”

Guarded composition
In terms of the team composition, the Indian coach wasn’t all that forthcoming, preferring to keep his cards close to his chest. “We still haven’t discussed that. All 16 are available. It’s unfortunate that Karun has missed out after he scored that triple hundred. That’s the beauty about this group where whoever comes in has done really well. There have been times where people have had to be left out because of combinations that we go with but everyone is available. It’s unfortunate for Karun but he’s one class act and you’ve seen that in the short international opportunities that he’s got,” said Kumble. The team management hasn’t quite made up its mind on whether to go in with four or five bowlers, waiting perhaps for another look at the pitch today.

Right combination
“It all depends on what we believe is the right combination to win a Test match. And that’s all we do. If we believe that four bowlers are enough we will go with four, if we feel five bowlers are needed, five it will be,” added Kumble. When asked what he felt about the Australians and how they managed to do better than New Zealand or England, Kumble preferred to look inward.

“Australia are a quality side. All the other touring sides were quality sides too but I don’t think we played to our potential (in Pune). And that’s what we’d like to do. We’d like to comeback into this Test match and play to our potential. We only look at what we need to tick. We didn’t tick too many boxes in the last game, and we didn’t win. So we need to tick all those boxes – be it the partnerships as a batting unit, partnerships as a bowling unit or taking those catches – all those things are important to win Test matches. That’s what we’ll focus on,” said the coach.

Rahane’s scores since his 188 against New Zealand in Indore last October…

23 13 1 23 26 0 82 28 13 & 18

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