Has the time come for India to look past Ajinkya Rahane?

Ajinkya Rahane has struggled for runs in 2021.
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In the last few years, there has been immense scrutiny over Ajinkya Rahane for his poor form and after every failure, the outside noises get louder. Has the time come for India to look at other options instead? Rahane was once one of the most consistent players for India, especially in the overseas tours, but he has been disappointing in the last few years. He has been given the backing of the team and has been given quite a long rope to deliver, but he has not shown consistency. He has shown some flashes of form in that time, including a match-defining 112 in the first innings at the MCG last season, but there is no doubt that he is struggling. Badly.

His test average, which was once as high as 51, has dropped down to less than 40 now. The aforementioned 100 in Melbourne in 2020 when the team was at a low-ebb reiterated the calibre of player he is and his importance to team, but so far in 2021, he has averaged less than 20 in the 21 innings he has played. That is undeniably concerning, especially for a player who should be in his prime. With a tough assignment coming up in South Africa, the question is: should he be backed ahead of players like Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari. Both men have grabbed their chances whenever the opportunity has presented itself, with Iyer recently scoring an excellent century on debut against New Zealand.

Rahane did not feature in the second test of that particular series, leaving his position insecure. He has only himself to blame for that. He had looked very good during in making 35 in Kanpur, but could not capitalize on the start and pile up big runs. India now has a tough decision to make with regard to his inclusion in the team. Looking beyond numbers, there is still value to be found in Rahane, particularly thanks to his leadership skills. But at the end of the day, runs are the currency in cricket and it is safe to say he has taken out a lot of loans so far to retain his place in the side.

That said, although the numbers might not back him, he certainly does have the backing of the captain and coach. Ultimately, whichever route India takes will have its pros and cons. It is becoming hard to escape the conclusion that India has to reward the new performers with a long rope and move past Rahane and look ahead and put their money on the young guns and with the depth of talent Indian cricket has at the moment there is certainly no point in playing someone based on his past laurels.