A very valid question which most Indian Cricket fans have is: Rahane or Pujara, who is a better batsman for the number 3 position? Dravid’s retirement certainly meant that the number 3 position would be up for grabs among the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma.
The inconsistency in Rohit Sharma’s form has led to the deletion of his name from the list. The recent form of both the other batsmen has been quite fantastic. Both of them have shown great temperament while batting at number 3 to go with their classy batting styles. During the recently concluded India-Sri Lanka Test series both Rahane and Pujara showed that they were comfortable facing both the new ball as well as the old one. Certainly the recent forms of both the batsmen have given the selectors as well as the captain a point or two to think upon.
After Dravid’s retirement it was almost a certainty that Pujara would take his place. At that time his class, his temperament, his form lead quite a few to think that he would easily fit into the number 3 slot. For the next few years his performance at the number 3 position was so satisfying that it led many to even compare him with Dravid. He was not only good on dry Indian pitches but also performed impeccably on green turfs outside the country. Pujara emerged as the highest scorer in the series against South Africa in South Africa, where he scored 280 runs at an average of almost 70 including a century at The Wanderers. He was also India’s highest scorer in the series against England in India which India went on to lose 2-1. Moreover, he has already scored two double tons at the number 3 position which also portrays the kind of temperament he has.
In the series against Sri Lanka Pujara went on to bat through the first innings of the Third Test match which also helped India win the Test series. In between he was not in his best of forms which also led to his exclusion from the Indian side. But the way with which he has made a comeback certainly means that he is again getting his form back.
Ajinkya Rahane, who got into the Indian side as a regular number 5 batsman, did get a few opportunities to bat at number 3 when Pujara was suffering with his poor form. Batting at number 5 he has shown that he has the perfect temperament of a Test batsman. He is also perhaps India’s most consistent batsman outside the country. In fact all his Test centuries has been scored in foreign countries. Though he has not batted that much at number 3 he does have the temperament and class of a number 3 batsman. The century Rahane scored against Sri Lanka at the P.Sara Oval showed that he can bat at number 3. It was his century that helped India level that series. On a surface where the new ball was swinging viscously and the spinners also got purchase as the ball got old he batted patiently and went on to score a brilliant 126.
From what can be seen of Pujara and Rahane it is evident that the Indian selectors and the captain are going to have headaches deciding whom to play at 3. But what will surely make them rejoice is the fact that they have the most promising couple of players playing for them.