India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 2nd day December 14, 2012

Hello, Rahane here, anyone listening?

My first-class average is 63.35. I have travelled a lot with the Indian team. When openers fail, I am not picked; when middle order fails, I am still not picked. I wonder if I am good enough for this beast called Test cricket

Hello. My name is Ajinkya Rahane. I made my first-class debut as an opener in September 2007, in the Mohammad Nissar Trophy, which used to be played between Ranji champions and Quaid-e-Azam champions. I scored 143 in that match. In the coming season, Wasim Jaffer was dropped from the Test side, and he came back to Mumbai as an opener. So I moved down to No. 3. I might have scored a duck in my first first-class innings as a No. 3, but I ended that domestic season with an average of 56.50.

Since then, if you take out one disappointing tour of the West Indies, with the India A side, I have never averaged below 56.85 in any first-class season. My overall first-class average is 63.35, and only 37.34 in List A. Accordingly, I was picked for the side that the touring Australians played against before the Tests in 2010-11. I was only 22 then. I scored a century in that first-class game, but lost out to Cheteshwar Pujara as replacement for Sourav Ganguly, who, too, had been scoring heavily in domestic cricket.

I went back to Ranji and kept scoring runs, batting anywhere in the top three. I thought that gave me a better chance of making it to the Test side, because I could now play both as an opener and in the middle order. I was prepared to wait. After all we had three greats in the middle order and two settled openers. Then I saw the openers take rest. I saw the replacements fail. I saw the original openers come back and fail. My chance, though, came in ODIs, despite my averages in domestic cricket suggesting my stronger suit was not the limited-overs game.

I was not one to complain. I made the most of my ODI debut, which came thanks to a glut of injuries to first-choice players. I made decent runs in that ODI series. Some even said I was one of the few bright spots on a tour of England where we lost practically everything. Now the middle order was failing too. I knew my chance in Tests couldn't be that far away. Pujara was injured, Suresh Raina had failed. For the home Tests against West Indies that season, India went back to Virat Kohli. He is a serious batsman, and I didn't see anything wrong in giving him more chances.

Then came the tour of Australia, and I and my team-mate from Mumbai, Rohit Sharma, were both on that plane. He was a back-up middle-order batsman, I could fit in anywhere in the order should the need arise. We had both travelled a bit with the squad without getting our debuts. He too had a much better first-class average than List A, but had been persisted with only in limited-overs cricket.

Still we were excited to come to Australia. It soon turned sour. Throughout the tour we saw the openers and the middle order fail with remarkable consistency - except for Kohli - but we never got our chance. Sometimes, especially a day before the Test, we would go to a corner in the nets, and give each other throwdowns. I can't reveal here what the team's reasons for persisting with failing batsmen were, but I read in some newspapers and websites that the selectors were wondering just the same. The captain and coach, though, reportedly said they were waiting for the selectors to make the tough calls.

Anyway, the tour got over, I came back to India, and scored a hundred in IPL, which surprisingly made far more people ask why I was not being picked. I wished I had known earlier that it was so easy. Either side of that IPL, two of the greatest Indian batsmen ever - Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman - retired.

Two places opened. Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane in, right? Wrong. Rohit was dropped for his poor run in the one-day game, which, at least statistically, is not his preferred format. Me, I lost out to Raina, who was now getting a third bite at the cherry. He failed again. The other place went to Pujara, who had recovered from his injury. He duly claimed it.

Still, there were eight home Tests remaining. Raina had failed, and I was expecting a debut against England in Ahmedabad. Enter Yuvraj Singh, who had recovered from his illness and had scored a double-century in Duleep Trophy. As soon as he was named in the squad, I was sure I won't play the first Test. He is a left-arm spinner too, and they say Kevin Pietersen is suspect against them.

Now a new season began with me not knowing where and for whom I will be playing. One day I am playing for India A against the touring Englishmen, the next I am playing Ranji Trophy for Mumbai, and in the next week I am carrying drinks for India. The Indian batting meanwhile keeps failing after the aberration in Ahmedabad. Calls for change are big as India trail 2-1. Now even Yuvraj has failed and has been dropped.

Surely now I will play in Nagpur? I had another think coming. Ravindra Jadeja has scored two triple-centuries in Ranji Trophy, which I can't do because I don't even know when I will be released to play Ranji and when I will be asked to be the 12th man. Jadeja bowls left-arm spin too. I am confused, though. When openers fail, I am not picked; when middle order fails, I am still not picked. I wonder if I am good enough for this beast called Test cricket.

Okay, I think, triple-centuries are not a joke. Let's see how Jadeja does. As a bowler he is steady, but India have three other specialist spinners in the side. On day two, Indian batting fails again. They are 71 for 4. Now that's a debut, I think. But enter the captain at No. 6. Oh well.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    pls read this to know how poor indian team selection is

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    Absolutely fantastic article...Ajinkya Rahane is the next big thing not in Indian cricket, but in world cricket but on one condition, if he is given a chance....He has been the best batsman in the Indian domestic circuit for the past three years...don't doubt it, because he has the best first class average in the whole world by a living batsman...He is exceeded only by Bradman and Vijay Merchant both of whom are no more..If Raina, Yuvraj, Jadeja, and even Pujara and Kohli are better than him, I don't know what to say...

  • Nachiket on December 16, 2012, 6:15 GMT

    @all badri supporters....I love badri myself. But is badrinath capable of opening as well ? Rahane does open too and is ready to bat down at 6,7 too. Badrinath supporters should stop moaning. He was real unlucky to have his time in presence of fab 4 and you shouldn't argue cause India had real deal in batting for the last one decade.He is way past his age now. Why do you want someone to start being regular at 32 when most englishman retire at 35? Rahane is the finest test player from the younger lot and I feel real real sad as our captain dhoni gave jadeja a place instead of this chap. Jadeja gets a game after his somewhat rajkot lucky triples and he's proven ill-temperament in the limited overs, where as rahane who's attitude is seen in his eyes, doesn't get a game? Dhoni sucks. I love him. But when it comes to choosing right ones for right format. He sucks. Even Dravid while opening with rahane in Ipl had said he's the future of indian cricket..I feel real pity for him....

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    Lots to think for the selectors

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    Rahane and pujara will we the key for Australia series,both willl stun the visiting team,tats for sure. Sending rahane at 2,sachin can step down to No:5 will solve most of the issue...

    Dhoni have to forget about piches and conditions and play cool game like before .......

  • ashutosh on December 15, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    Excellent article Mr. Monga . It is incomprehensible with Selectors and Captain's thinking. Rahane was in the squad ahead of Jadeja(hewhomustnotbeinanyways). By even slightest of logic this guy had to be roped in in place of Yuvi. But let's jog our memory to other fallacies in this great captain/selectors plans

    Piyush Chawla 9 wickets at 48.33 and Amit Mishra 14 wickets at 22.8 . So if Jadeja was selected on current form then what about the wrist spinner?

    Rohit Sharma Like Rahane has excellent first class average of 58 while an average List A average of 34 so why is he always been played in shorter format while even in doemstic games he is two times a better performer in longer format. Why waste his talent and India's time by playing him in t-20 and odi's while he clearly has the record and talent for Test matches.

    I blame Captain equal with selectors now as we all know that he is the apple of the eye of the BCCI president hence he wields full power over who stays or leaves.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    @Ravi Narala what the speciality Badrinath should replace Sachin!!! mast be badrinath replaces VVS when srikanth was selecter. commen we are not playing for Tamil nadu. playing for India. We have enough talent ahead of him like Rahane,Raidu,manoj etc...

  • Anand on December 15, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    i wonder why u guys always miss out sehwag in dis sacking issue. he needs to be removed. he is not a test player at all. he doesnt score in 10 matches and scores 1 300 and maintains dat average. go chk out his overseas record, worse. i was really shocked wen he said u need patience in test cricket. in the whole world any one can speak about patience but not him. i still remember dis incident, where rahul played with all 10 players and again came to open in 2 nd innings with sehwag. with dat legend fighting it out so greatly and PATIENTLY, atkeast considering the situation(follow on)he shud have been patient but he didnt, he started swinging h is bat from 2nd ball.worse ever. he s totally unworthy player

  • James on December 15, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    Hope indian selectors dare to choose the following 11 for the next series. Unmukt Chand, Rahane, Pujara, Kohli, Rayudu, Rohit, Saha/Smit-patel/Naman-Ojha, Rishi Dhawan/Bhubaneswar Kumar/Irfan Pathan, Jadeja/Ojha, Ashwin/Jalaj Saxena, Umesh Yadav

    Also keep people like Manoj Tiwary, Mandeep Singh, Jiwanjot, Awana, Sreesanth, Harmeet, in reserve so that in case of injury or bad form of the others, they can be be easily replaced.

  • Gaurav on December 15, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    Rahane, Rohit, Tiwary and Badrinath - all of them average around 60 in first class cricket. While Yuvraj and Raina average in the early forties. These two are very good one day players and on basis of that have been given chances galore in Tests but have failed. Should'nt it be logical then to now give chances to the first four? Atleast the success of Pujara should have made the selectors realize that by now. Its quite likely that out of these four two will be successful at Test level. ODI should not be the only parameter for selection in the Test team. If the quality of first class is so poor that even those who average around 60 do not give the selectors and captain the confidence to play them in tests , then it is high time that first class cricket is made obselete.

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