Ajinkya Rahane is one of Indian cricket’s greatest assets. Although, he is nothing more than a back-up option in limited-overs cricket, there is hardly anyone worthy of challenging his place in the Test squad.
However, problems have been aplenty for Rahane this home season of Test cricket. He has struggled for runs whereas other Indian batsmen have come up with splendid performances. Still, he shouldn't be written off for the upcoming overseas challenges as he has the knack up standing up on demanding situations.
The Mumbai batsman averages 38.78 in 2017 which is his lowest average in a year since his Test career began four years back. He has, so far, registered just two fifties this year and his best score is 82 against Bangladesh in Hyderabad.
However, for Rahane, it is not something new as it has been the pattern of his scoring ever since he played his first Test match. He belongs to those unusual category of players who boast of a higher overseas batting average than at home.
In 42 Tests so far, Rahane averages a massive 53.44 in overseas conditions, whereas it falls to a timid 35.64 when playing at home. The difference of 17.80 between away and home averages is the fourth highest among batsmen who have played at least 30 innings each in home and away conditions, next only to the likes of Mohinder Amarnath, Darren Bravo and Ken Barrington.
Moreover, the statistics yield the same results when his year-by-year home and away batting averages are considered. Only the year 2015 is an exception when he averaged more in home matches, courtesy back to back centuries against South Africa.
His debut wasn't fruitful as he managed scores of only 7 and 1 against Australia in Delhi in 2013. However, he made his mark in the following overseas series against South Africa later that year with scores of 51* and 96. The fact that it came in tough conditions in Durban, and against world-class bowlers such as Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, and Vernon Philander made the world take note of his class, talent and potential.
2014 was the year when he rose to prominence with centuries in New Zealand, England and Australia. He was India’s best batsman during the entire overseas campaign that year and no one came close to matching his records.
He followed that up with a superb home run in 2015 making his mark in the historic series victory against South Africa with back-to-back centuries in Delhi Test.
However, his numbers at home have kept deteriorating ever since. Apart from his innings of 188 against the Kiwis in Indore in 2016, he has hardly produced anything of substance. Since that innings he has averaged just 25 in 16 innings at home.
Despite this degrading numbers, one can always put his money on the fact that Rahane will come good in India’s upcoming overseas assignment of South Africa. He enjoys batting on fast and bouncy tracks as compared to the slow and sluggish pitches at home.
He is an excellent manipulator of pace. His sublime touches, superb wrist work and ability to play the pull and hook better than other Indian batsmen make him a highly coveted asset for the tour of South Africa.
He has an overall Test average of 59.37 while playing against South Africa and his numbers rise to 69.66 while playing in the Rainbow Nation. These numbers will surely boost his confidence and help him to come out with better performances in the upcoming tour.
He just needs to get out of his mental block that has hindered him from giving his best with the bat in recent times. The Indian team will keep backing him as they have done with most of the players during their rough patches.
Everyone knows the quality and reliability that Rahane brings to the team. So, there is no point in writing him off considering his lean patch at home. When the time comes, he will stand up once again. When the time comes, he will make his bat talk, once again. And it will happen sooner — perhaps during the tour of South Africa — rather than later.