Cape Town: The lure to play an extra bowler in Hardik Pandya along with an in-form Rohit Sharma in the opening Test against South Africa has cast doubts over Ajinkya Rahane's place in the playing XI despite having the best away record among the current crop of batsmen.
While the Indian team skipped the optional session today, batting coach Sanjay Bangar dropped loose hints that the limited overs vice-captain Sharma may get a chance based on his current form.
"Again, it all depends on the team composition. All of them are batting really well. Rohit, on the back of his performances across formats, is in with a chance of playing," Bangar said at the pre-match conference.
Rahane's form has been wretched since the start of the home series against England in late 2016. Since the start of the series, Rahane has scored 617 runs at an average of 26.82 over a period of 14 Tests with the only hundred coming against a below-par Sri Lanka at Pallekele.
With Hardik Pandya providing multiple options on a hard deck, there are rumours that the Indian team management might take a bold call despite Rahane's brilliant overseas record and an average of 60 plus outside the sub-continent.
As of now, the only thing that is going in Rahane's favour is his record in countries like South Africa, England and Australia.
On the other hand, Rohit, since his comeback, has been prolific in the shorter version having scored his third double hundred in ODIs and joint fastest T20 hundred – both against Sri Lanka.
More importantly, in the two matches that he has played on his comeback to Test cricket, Rohit had scores of 102 no, 65 and 50 not out.
It is learnt that over the past six days, Rohit's form in the nets has convinced the team management that he is in good touch.