Former India national selector, Devang Gandhi opines that the Indian management should have kept more faith in Ajinkya Rahane when they dropped him in 2018 on the tour of South Africa. Rahane was left out from the Indian team owing to his low scores in the previous home series against Sri Lanka- Rohit Sharma was selected over the Test vice-captain in the first two matches in South Africa.
India lost both the matches and Rahane was recalled in the eleven for the last Test in Johannesburg, which India won with the help of a crucial knock of 48 runs in the second innings. Since then he hasn’t been dropped despite inconsistent form.
Gandhi points out that Rahane was left out of the ODI team – and subsequently from the World Cup squad – despite scoring runs in whatever opportunities he got in the ODIs in West Indies and South Africa. Rahane was dropped in favour of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and then because of the rise of KL Rahul- Gandhi believes that it would have hit him mentally.
Speaking to Times of India, Devang Gandhi said, “It was a time when it seemed that he might have taken a hit mentally. Leading up to that South Africa tour, he did well overseas. Maybe the home series before this was not too good, but he used to be patient with a player like Rahane. You always have to look at the big picture. Soon after, he hit a crucial 48-run knock at Johannesburg, where we won the Test. This showed his character and fighting ability.”“He was a bit upset due to not joining ODI. Prior to that tour, he had scored five 50 runs in ODIs as an opener. But as Rohit and Shikhar fit, they had to make way. He was part of the team and then KL Rahul was born. They found it difficult to choose. He was not selected for the World Cup. That must have taken a toll on him.”
Ajinkya Rahane was never going to give up: Devang Gandhi
The 49-year-old acknowledges that Rahane hasn’t been at his best in the past few years with the bat and his position in the team has come under the scanner. The right-hander didn’t give up – he went and played county cricket, toured with the ‘A’ teams to improve in different conditions – and finally, in Melbourne Rahane’s batting came to save India when the team was on the verge of a collapse.
“The way he gathers everyone here is for him to see. His form has been indifferent for three years. As he struggled to claim his position in the team, things could not be easier for him with the perception around him. He was never going to give up. He went into county cricket. He wanted to prove one thing,” Devang Gandhi added.“He showed keenness in the Shadow ‘A’ tour before the big tour. His resolve and mental strength have pulled him to this day. Where he has written the script for this comeback for India in the MCG, ” he said.