by Kaushik Narayanan
India’s famed middle order has been in a steady decline since the victorious WC campaign in 2011. The middle order mainstays Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina are nowhere near the team now, and thanks to some rocky performances abroad, the middle order has been in constant shuffle, with MSD trying out nameless combinations without any success.
The No 4 slot is the most important of all, as it is the responsibility of the batsman to pace the innings with perfection and make a stable partnership in case of an early break through. But since Sachin’s retirement from ODIs, Virat Kohli has been promoted from No4 slot to No3, wherein he has been in amazing form off late. And a big hole has gradually devoloped in the No4 position. Both Yuvraj and Raina have been left exposed technically by quality bowlers, which has left them without a place in the team. Now with the time for experimentation done, it is logically right to persist with one player in that position, and by the looks, Rahane has been the best bet.
A technically sound Rahane has sealed his test spot with a few sturdy knocks in the tour of South Africa and New Zealand. But his ODI spot is still far from sealed, thanks to a stiff competition due to lacksture performance by anyone in the middle order. But it would be foolish not to persist with Rahane. His sound technique, coupled with temperament to score big will definitely help India’s cause. Moreover, if it is right to persist with Rohit Sharma, who has been miserable at the top overseas, in the opening slot, why not persist with Rahane?
He migjt look like a more of a defensive batsman, but his exploits in IPL indicate otherwise. Moreover, undee the guidance of Rahul Dravid and his former Ranji Teammate Sachin Tendulkar, he has begun to value his wicket more than anything else.
His performances in ODIs might not be a strong argument, but it is foolish if he doesn’t get to remain in the team. The team will need a “secobd fiddle” player of sorts during the middle overs, and he seems to fit the bill perfectly.
Patience is the key if we need to bring a world class ODI player out of Rahane. Or else he will be an another addition to the list of “another good talent spoilt” case.