The series which was deemed to change the face of Indian cricket in abroad conditions looks to be in complete distraught. Eyebrows have been raised on the team selection as well as the attitude of the players after two consecutive losses. In this article we will be talking about two players whose test spots have been put into major doubts. And they are once called talented and reliable Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane.
India’s series started on a bad note when they lost the first test after putting up considerable fight. But, then, it went from bad to much worse after they lost the second test against England by an innings and 159 runs. Despite the first day being called up due to rain, England managed to wrap up the test match inside four days quite easily. India were bowled out twice in the match in just 82.2 overs.
The first player who has had a torrid time on the crease is opener Murali Vijay. The Tamil Nadu right handed batsman, who cemented his place at the top of the order in the back of some gritty knocks, has seen a huge dip in his form in the recent past. Being a traditional test match player, Vijay was supposed to be one of the lynchpins in the batting order in abroad conditions. However his performances haven’t backed up his hype.
Vijay could only accumulate 102 runs in six innings at an average of 17 in the series against South Africa and has only 26 runs to his name in the current test series against England at an average of only 6.5. Vijay’s overall average since 2016 has gone down from 42.83 to 39.33. While criticism has always surrounded Shikhar Dhawan and his test spot, all eyes should now be on Murali Vijay and his disastrous batting form.
Vidharba opener Faiz Fazal and Karnataka opener Mayank Agarwal have shown tremendous form in the Ranji Trophy and it remains to be seen how many more chances are the selectors willing to give Vijay before he is dropped.
The second batsman who has made this unwanted list is middle order batsman Ajinkya Rahane. When Rahane made his debut in test match cricket, many labelled him as the heir to the legendary batsman Rahul Dravid. He showed perfect grit and patience combined with impressive performances away from home to live up to the hype that surrounded him. But, as is the case with Vijay, Rahane too has suffered dearly against the bowlers recently.
Rahane’s shoulders were burdened with the expectations that he and Virat Kohli would be foundations of Indian batting in away series. While the latter has surpassed all the expectations, the former one has failed miserably. And the most concerning part about Rahane is his inability to score huge scores even in the home soil. His average has gone down drastically from 51.37 to 41.42 since 2016 and that is about ten runs per innings. The right-hander has scored only 48 runs in the two tests against England at an average of 12. There should be no surprises if Ajinkya Rahane is dropped from the test team in the near future. Karun Nair, Dhruv Shorey and Nitish Rana have all been impressive in the middle order in the Ranji Trophy for their respective sides.
If India do not act now, then the current series might just head towards a whitewash in favour of England. Nair and Rishabh Pant are in the sidelines for team India and if need arises, these batsmen, despite being inexperienced, can be looked upon. Only time shall tell whether Ravi Shastri and his contingent can finally get the team selection right and whether India can make a comeback in the series.