Analysis: Why Ajinkya Rahane is 'modern day' Rahul Dravid of Indian cricket

Like Dravid, Rahane prefers the textbook art of batting, is sharp in the slips and prefer to stay away from the limelight.

Written by Sportswriter Jhalak Nagpal

That classic 'straight drive'

Comparison harms one's self-esteem. However, the case would certainly be different if you are compared to great cricket legend Rahul Dravid. Indian Test cricket team's vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is often seen as a replica of Dravid when at crease.

From the calmness on the ground to the stability he gives to batting lineup, Rahane is similar in stance, especially his ability to stick to the wicket. Like Dravid, the diminutive batsman prefers the textbook art of batting, is sharp in the slips and prefer to stay away from the limelight.

(Photograph:WION Web Team)

Phase which defines the two

But where Dravid stood out was his ability to adapt to the 50-over format despite being considered a misfit for ODIs in the early part of his career. The cricketer could only manage 63 runs in his first six ODIs. It took him 35 matches to score his first ton. He was more technique than talent and that was hurting him but he prospered through sheer determination. Dravid eventually ended up with 10,889 runs in 344 ODIs at an average of 39.16.

Rahane meanwhile, has only managed to be picked for 75 ODIs in six years since his debut. He has been tried out at all positions from No. 1 to 7 without much success. The right-hander reached the 2,000 run-mark in the One-Day International (ODI) format in his 63rd match, same that of the former India captain.

He was deemed good only as a third opener, a back-up option in case the stars (Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma) did not make it to the XI.

So despite four successive half-centuries against Australia, Rahane sat out the ODIs against New Zealand and Sri Lanka when Dhawan returned.

A phase which Dravid faced during his ODIs too.


Ability to stick to wicket

However, problems have been aplenty for Rahane last home season of Test cricket. He struggled for runs where other Indian batsmen have come up with splendid performances. In 42 Tests so far, Rahane averages a massive 53.44 in overseas conditions, whereas it falls to a timid 35.64 when playing at home. The difference of 17.80 between away and home averages is the fourth highest among batsmen who have played at least 30 innings each in home and away conditions.

In 2013, Rahane's debut wasn't fruitful as he managed scores of only 7 and 1 against Australia in Delhi. However, he made his mark in the following overseas series against South Africa later that year with scores of 51 not out and 96. The runs came in tough conditions in Durban, and against world-class bowlers such as Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander which made the world take note of his class, talent and potential.

2014 was the year when he rose to prominence with centuries in New Zealand, England and Australia. He was India’s best batsman during the entire overseas campaign that year and no one came close to matching his records.

He followed that up with a superb home run in 2015 making his mark in the historic series victory against South Africa with back-to-back centuries in Delhi Test.

However, his numbers at home have kept deteriorating ever since. Apart from his innings of 188 against the Kiwis in Indore in 2016, he has hardly produced anything of substance. Since that innings he has averaged just 25 in 16 innings at home.


Its Dravid style

Rahane like Dravid is also accused of being too one-dimensional. It is important for him to add new skill sets to his armory. He's good at grafting, but must become the best at doing that to be trusted with the role of anchoring an inning. After sitting out for a series of games, Rahane returned in the playing XI for the third and final Test against South Africa at Johannesburg.

His inclusion brought good tidings for the tourists as India won the Test with Rahane scoring a very important 48 in the second innings to help lay the foundations. In the lead-up to the ODI series opener on Thursday, Kohli and Rahane added 189 and made a chase of 270 runs look ridiculously easy against a good South African bowling attack.

After the match, Kohli too praised Rahane and even went on to say he was India's likely No.4 in the World Cup next year in England.


Undoubtedly, Dravid's replica

However, it is important for the Mumbai batsman to add more aggressive weapons to his arsenal - the pull shot along the ground, the sweep shot behind the wicket and the square cut of a turning ball.

He is an out and out team man, with consistency still a lacking area.

But, the kind of character he posses, Rahane undoubtedly is a reflection of ‘The Wall’.


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