Ajinkya Rahane’s credentials as a limited-overs batsman have never been in doubt. His 106 against England in Birmingham in 2014 and 79 against South Africa at Melbourne in the 2015 World Cup underline his value playing overseas.
However, since his 2011 debut, he hasn’t had a settled ODI spot and finds himself on the sidelines. With skipper Virat Kohli making his confidence in Ambati Rayudu as No 4 for the next year’s World Cup clear, Rahane’s hopes don’t look bright.
Having decided his team will bat first in the Deodhar Trophy final against India A at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground on Saturday, Rahane scored a magnificent, unbeaten 144 as opener as India C defeated holders India B by 29 runs.
Once India C amassed 352/7, with young Ishant Kishan’s 114 (87 b, 11×4, 6×6) and his 210-run opening stand with Rahane (156 b, 9×4, 3×6) setting it up, India A skipper Shreyas Iyer’s century (148 off 114 balls) alone wasn’t going to be enough as his team was 323 all out in 46.1 overs.
Rahane had struggled for big scores across formats in 2018, while his match-winning 148 for Mumbai against Karnataka in the Vijay Hazare Trophy was his first century of the year. It was vital to get big runs whatever the format before going to Australia.
With a huge total to defend, it was for the bowlers to finish the job. And Rajneesh Gurbani, Navdeep Saini and Vijay Shankar took two wickets each and Pappu Roy, the unfancied Odisha left-arm spinner claimed 3/75.
Rahane, Kishan make merry
With R Samarth and Abhinav Mukund failing to click, Rahane promoted Kishan to open. Rahane was more positive to start with. He was cautious against off-spinner K Gowtham, who opened the bowling, but took the attack to pacer Deepak Chahar (2/83).
Kishan struggled against the moving ball initially. The former India U-19 captain scored just six off 31 deliveries before breaking the shackles with a six and four off Gowtham in the 14th over. His next 44 runs came in 23 balls. It has been a great season for Kishan, 20, who was Jharkhand’s top run-getter (405) in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy.
In Deodhar Trophy, his 69 and a 121-run stand with centurion Shubman Gill had helped defeat India A to reach the final.
Kishan had a scare in the 17th over when left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem caught him in front, but replays showed it was a no ball. And when he was trapped by left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat, the ball was missing leg.
India B bowlers came back in the middle overs but Suryakumar Yadav and Rahane boosted the total.
India B suffered an early blow when in-form opener Mayank Agarwal (14) fell to Gurbani. Ruturaj Gaikwad and No 3 Iyer forged a 116-run partnership for the second wicket. But once Gaikwad (60) fell, India B lost the plot and Iyer ran out of partners.
Hanuma Vihari (8) was out playing a big shot. Manoj Tiwary (4), Ankush Bains (37) and Gowtham (18) too couldn’t do much. Iyer reached a brilliant century, but he top-edged a sweep to be caught off leg-spinner Rahul Chahar.