Ajinkya Rahane, India’s vice-captain in Test cricket, is a phenomenal player of the game. He has shown his brilliance with the bat on various occasions, proving the fact that he can be relied upon when he is most needed. The batsman from Mumbai is regarded as India’s most versatile player on foreign soil. His contributions to the Indian team are well noted. In the absence of Virat Kohli, he was the most reliable captain and he upped his game to deliver for his team.
Jinx lately, seems to be struggling with the bat. Who was once considered India’s best Test batsman alongside Captain Kohli, is now being questioned for his spot in the Test Squad. His average in Test cricket has been dropping over the last few years. From an average of 45.61 in the year 2015 to an average of 71.33 in the year 2019 to an average of 21.05 in the year 2021, Jinx’s batting averages have seen a lot of ups and downs in his career. He has not managed to reach the three-figure score for quite a long time now. Looking at his current form, it will be a matter of time before the selectors give the opportunity to the youngsters who await their turn to play for Team India.
Let us look at 5 players who could replace Ajinkya Rahane.
1. Shubman Gill:
Shubman Gill is known to possess a great deal of patience in the game of cricket. He does not let anything distract him while he is out on the field. What defines Gill is his technique and his ability to bat for longer durations and make valuable contributions to his team. He has been performing well and his consistency with the bat does not go unnoticed. His List A record is very promising as he has played 58 matches, holding an average of 45.35 and scoring a total of 2313 runs so far.
His Test record is not very long but is still very promising. He has played 8 Test matches. His personal best of 91 runs came off an extremely crucial innings in the final Test against Australia in Brisbane. His gritty performance against the Mitchell Starc, where he slammed three consecutive fours, showed his determination to bring it home for his team. If given the opportunity, Gill is ready to take on the role of a middle-order batsman in Test cricket. Many experts believe that Gill has a bright future in Test cricket.
2. Shreyas Iyer:
Many experts of the game believe that Shreyas Iyer is ready to make his Test debut for Team India. He is an extremely talented batsman, who awaits the opportunity to play the longest format of the game. Iyer has performed well with the bat in the shorter formats of the game. He always looks to score big runs and can bat well in the middle-order.
His technique and resilience make him a perfect candidate for a spot in India’s Test team. Iyer’s List A numbers show him as a very dependable batsman. His average is just a little under 45 (44.67) and he has scored 8 hundreds and 25 fifties. He scored a mammoth 1321 runs with a hefty average of 73.38 in the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy. His century in the final against Saurashtra helped Mumbai script their 41st win in the Ranji Trophy. Shreyas Iyer has always talked about his desire to play in the longest format of the game. He is ready to take on the responsibility of a middle-order batsman in Test cricket as and when he gets his call.
3. Prithvi Shaw:
The former U-19 Indian team captain, Prithvi Shaw, is one such player who has been performing well for team India. His Test record is one to look out for. Shaw was the youngest Indian to score a century on his Test debut on day one of the First Test against West Indies in Rajkot. He is also the second-youngest Indian Test centurion after the great, Sachin Tendulkar.
Shaw has what it takes to shine bright with the bat when his team needs him the most. He is one such candidate who would be a perfect fit for a spot in the longest format of the game. He has been called for the ongoing Test series against England. He is an opening batsman; however, his opening performances have not made much of an impact. Since he is already part of the squad, Captain Kohli can experiment by sending him lower down the order, precisely Ajinkya Rahane’s spot. This would help Shaw settle in perfectly and play his natural game. He holds an average of 42.37 in his Test career so far. His numbers prove that he can hold down the fort lower down the batting line-up.
4. Hanuma Vihari:
Hanuma Vihari is another exceptional player of the game of cricket. His performance with the bat is what defines the kind of player he is. Captain Kohli when asked about Vihari’s batting prowess, said that “the dressing room is calm when he is in the middle.” Over the years, he has managed to up his game.
Though he continued to churn up runs across all formats, it was an obvious observation that Hanuma Vihari is built for Test cricket. Laying a solid foundation with the bat, Vihari has a total of 624 runs in 12 Test appearances. He was lauded for his performance against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the 5th Day of the Third Test. This match saw him hold his ground for over three hours, which ensured that the match ended in a draw. His statistics are extremely impressive and make him a suitable candidate for the role of a middle-order batsman for the Indian Test team.
5. Suryakumar Yadav:
Suryakumar Yadav is one such player who has managed to create headlines with his aggressive batting performances in the shorter formats of the game. SKY is known for his ability to change gears according to the circumstances created by the game. He thrives under pressure. He is yet to play a Test match for Team India, but it is a matter of time before he gets his chance to finally play.
Yadav has been added to the Indian squad for the ongoing Test series against England. With his recent form with the bat, he seems to be at the peak of his career at the age of 30. In his first Ranji Trophy at the age of 20, he averaged a scintillating 68.54 and in his last Ranji season (2019-20) saw him average a brilliant 56.44. This shows that he is ready to take on his next assignment as a Test batsman and perform to the best of his ability. Many experts of the game have backed Yadav’s selection into the Test squad.