While Rahane’s away average of 44.44 is commendable and he has contributed to memorable wins like at Lord’s in 2014 and at the MCG most recently, his returns of 37.35 in India needs correction. It is an aspect of his game that is hard to decipher, given that most prominent Indian batsmen average over 50 in familiar surroundings at home.
Rahane’s teammates Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, for instance, have home averages of 67.42 and 59.31 respectively. The Mumbaikar, though, doesn’t seem concerned by those numbers. On the eve of the second Test, the 32-year-old exuded confidence that he is going to contribute in this series.
“I don’t need to worry about what happened in the first Test. It is about what the team wants from me for this Test match. I am going to contribute. I am very confident about it,” Rahane said.
He can perhaps count himself unlucky for his dismissals in the first Test. He perished after a stunning catch by Joe Root in the first innings, while a sharp in-ducker from James Anderson with the reverse-swinging old ball got the better of him in the second.
Responding to the criticism of his home form, the 32-year-old pointed to the 2019 season against South Africa and Bangladesh, when he contributed three half-centuries and a century in six innings. The hundred came against South Africa in Ranchi when India were faltering at 39/3.
“We are playing at home after two years. We last played at home against SA (and Bangladesh) in 2019. If you take out the last 10-15 Tests, you will see some runs over there,” said Rahane.
Rahane will also feel reassured by the comments that Kohli made after the first Test. “Along with Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya is our most important Test batsman and he is going to continue to be. He is an impact player,” Kohli had said.
While Rahane doesn’t seem to have any obvious weakness against spinners, he has not always seemed comfortable against them either. Against England’s Moeen Ali, for example, Rahane has got out on five occasions in 10 Tests and averages less than 30.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra feels Rahane just needs a slight change of approach against spin rather than seek any major improvement.
“Rahane likes the ball to come onto the bat. That is why he has scored runs overseas. He has scored runs in India too, but when you average less than 40 at home as an Indian batsman, questions are obviously asked. Against spin, he needs to change his approach slightly. He has the game, like he showed against SA in Ranchi. In that innings, he was stepping out, driving and playing beautifully. But there are innings when he hasn’t done the same. He needs to find a way to put pressure on spinners,” Chopra told TOI on Friday.
With India 0-1 down in the series, Rahane will hope to produce a timely big knock in home conditions and help his side restore parity.