HomeAnalysisAjinkya Rahane: Not Royal enough for Rajasthan in 2018

Ajinkya Rahane: Not Royal enough for Rajasthan in 2018

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Not a mighty mauler, not a batsman who’d give you nightmares on the cricket field, he’s someone who steadily collects runs. And often he collects runs quicker than the restlessness with which you fast forward a boring soap opera on television.
Ever since Ajinkya Rahane appeared in the IPL, circa 2008, his average strike rate has been 120.

If massive sixes are your wishlist, Rahane isn’t the demigod that appears in mind.

But 11 games into this IPL, his strike rate stands at 120.
It’s as if nothing’s been done to replenish the standalone factor that defines capability in the tournament.
For the risk of imparting harsh assessment, this could be a temporary anomaly for a class cricketer.

But woes exacerbate when you stare at Rahane’s run column.

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For a batsman of his high standards, one who strives to contribute with a burning urgency, Rahane’s score sheet doesn’t justify his potential.
From 12 innings, 291 runs have been scored with a solitary fifty.
Moreover, he’s consumed 40 overs to produce these runs. That’s 7. 2 runs an over. By contemporary standards of cricket-  fielders inside the circle in the first 6 and powerplays often being an adjective of defining bellowing blades- ODIs warrant such run rates.
Maybe not T20s. And definitely not the IPL, which can excite fans the same way it can induce a yawn when batsmen being seeming safe inside a borough of inactivity.
It seems as if a truly mediocre report card has been put against a scholastic kid’s name.
The columns don’t match.
While this couldn’t have singularly determined Rajasthan Royals’ fortune, it’s done nothing whatsoever to improve their chances of qualifying; the team on the brink of an IPL exit unless of course, a miracle happens.

Funnily, a miracle is precisely what Ajinkya Rahane is expecting.

At the outset there was nothing bewildering at reading Ajinkya Rahane’s statement following RR’s bitter loss to KKR- “Rajasthan Royals can still qualify for the playoffs”. But there was a concern at Rahane lashing hard at his batsmen for failures when his numbers didn’t command respect.
In the last 4 games, Rahane’s failed to score a fifty and hasn’t got going.
His scores read- 11, 37, 4 and 9 versus KKR, MI, CSK and, King’s XI respectively.

Had Rajasthan won two games from their last four, they would have been up, perhaps right behind CSK.

And had Rahane tried anything radically different from his approach of taking his own sweet time to settle down, losing his wicket instead of holding on to an end- RR would’ve not been on the brink of exit.
But this might seem lame conjecture since RR haven’t won.

But what if RR would have- would you have credited Rahane’s captaincy?

For someone who embraced the fiery stroke-play that so eagerly demonstrated his batting in earlier editions, having played under Dravid’s captaincy and later, mentorship- does it look like Rahane has borrowed a leaf from Dravid’s book?
When was the last time you saw the mild-mannered bloke walk up to Krishnappa Gowtham when Yadav and Lewis were stepping down on him?
Did we see him hold team discussions with a young resource in Jofra Archer?
Irrational criticism be damned, one saw an equally out of sorts Ben Stokes talk to the guys a lot more than Rahane.
In the absence of Rahane being himself; the constant run-scorer, someone from whose bat 480 runs came in 2016 edition and, 540 in 2015; others got going.

What was telling was that two forces of the Royals’ nucleus’- Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler- contributed

Versus the same opposition against whom the IPL veteran failed to fire, Samson and Buttler contributed 26, 21, 22 and, 28 while Buttler came up with 39, 94*, 95*, 82, respectively.
The situation now sees Rajasthan walking a tightrope between exit and a thrilling qualification ahead.
But for the latter to happen, weird permutations and combinations will have to descend on the Jaipur team.
Wonder what would’ve happened if Rahane, the man who relished ferrying his team ahead and abstained from throwing his wicket away cheaply had descended for Jaipur?
Wonder what he can do now to resuscitate his career, now that even India has decided to go without him in England?

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