Dubai: Ajinkya Rahane’s stunning form in the Indian Premier League has helped him regain his Test spot in the Indian team for the World Test Championship final against Australia in June.
Rahane, who is in stunning form with newfound aggression for Chennai Super Kings, had last played a Test in January 2022, scoring 9 and 1 against South Africa in Cape Town. Incidentally, it was the last Test for Virat Kohli as captain, who resigned at the end of the third Test with the hosts winning the series 2-1.
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Rahane had led India to the famous Test series win against Australia in 2020-21. India had lost the first Test at Adelaide after getting dismissed for 36, the country’s lowest Test score. Rahane took over after Kohli had left for the paternity leave and changed the team’s fortunes around, winning the series 2-1 and inflicting a rare loss for Australia at their fortress at Gabba in Brisbane with a team of rookies.
Best is yet to come
Jinx, as he is known for his teammates, got jinxed and lost his scoring touch and from a dependable batter he lost his place. The 34-year-old technically sound Mumbai batter said: “The way I’m batting right now, I just want to keep continuing this form and keep contributing to the team. I really enjoyed my knock, but I feel my best is yet to come,” he said after his 71 not out against Kolkata Knight Riders guided Chennai to a 49-run win on Sunday.
Rahane’s confidence must be sky-high after punishing the bowlers at will to score 209 runs in five matches during the current IPL, which should be the last set of matches before the 15-man team under Rohit Sharma leave for The Oval for the title clash from June 7-11.
KL Rahul's role
The in-form Rahane makes a timely return to fill the void left by Shreyas Iyer, who is nursing a back injury. Pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant are not included because of long-term injuries.
T20 sensation Suryakumar Yadav has been dropped. He made the five-day team for Australia’s recent visit and played his only Test in Nagpur. Struggling K.L. Rahul keeps his place after he was dropped from the XI for the final two Australia Tests. With K.S. Bharat being the lone wicketkeeper, Rahul could don the gloves as the second wicketkeeper. In fact, Rahul could well be the first choice wicketkeeper to bolster the middle order and his familiarity with English conditions could tilt the balance in his favour.
Shami leads the attack
Mohammed Shami leads the pace attack alongside Mohammed Siraj. Young left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh, who has been making rapid strides in this IPL for Punjab Kings, could have been given a chance instead of Jaydev Unadkat, who is not done anything of note and has even benched by Rajasthan Royals in their last two matches this IPL season.
It will be India’s second WTC final after they lost the decider to New Zealand in the inaugural edition in 2021.
Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, K.L. Rahul, K.S. Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat.