In a one-off, you need your most-experienced players, says Shastri on Rahane’s inclusion in India’s WTC final squad

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri believes having an experienced campaigner like veteran batter Ajinkya Rahane in the squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia should come in handy, citing the need for a team to have its most experienced players in a one-off big game.

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri believes having an experienced campaigner like veteran batter Ajinkya Rahane in the squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia should come in handy, citing the need for a team to have its most experienced players in a one-off big game.

On Tuesday, Rahane earned a recall into India’s Test squad by being named in the squad for the WTC final, to be held from June 7-11 at The Oval in London. He was last seen playing a Test match for India against in January 2022 and was left out since then due to a dip in form, despite leading the side to an unforgettable 2-1 Border-Gavaskar Trophy triumph in Australia.

“Absolutely, it’s a one-off big game, like the Super Bowl, and you need your experienced player. Don’t forget just two-and-a-half years ago, the man won a Test series in Australia. He was the captain when Virat (Kohli) went (on paternity leave) and did a sterling job.”

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“People forget that hundred at the MCG, the way he played, and the fact that he’s gone back to the grind. You saw what it did with Pujara, he went back to the grind playing domestic cricket, playing county cricket, just got the number of runs under his belt, then came back into Test cricket and performed. It’s the same thing with Rahane, let’s hope that experience comes in handy,” Shastri was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo on the Ravi & Raunak Show.

Rahane had to recover from a hamstring injury sustained during IPL 2022 and then go back to the grind of domestic cricket to earn his spot back in the Test team. Starting with the Duleep Trophy in September 2022, Rahane made 250 runs in five innings, including an unbeaten 207 for West Zone.

In the 2022/23 Ranji Trophy, Rahane was Mumbai’s leading run-scorer with 634 runs from seven matches at an average of 57.64, including smashing a double-century against Hyderabad, and 191 against Assam.

In IPL 2023, Rahane has been in stupendous form for the Chennai Super Kings, aggregating 224 runs in six innings, while averaging 44.8 and at a jaw-dropping strike rate of 189.’3, where he’s looked in great touch with his timing and placement of shots.

Shastri also felt that with Shreyas Iyer not available due to a back surgery, the selection committee had to bring in Rahane to fill the middle-order spot, while fighting back claims that the right-hander’s form in IPL 2023 has played a hand in return to the Test team.

“Oh, a lot, because the memory is fresh. Domestic cricket was over two months ago. People might tend to forget it, even the selectors. Suddenly you come in and play that kind of innings where you look at ease, the timing is good, the footwork is good, the confidence is good, it would’ve definitely helped.”

“I’m so glad he’s made it to the side. He batted beautifully in these two-three games he’s played in the IPL, and has looked in great touch. And let’s not forget the experience he has. The moment Shreyas Iyer was injured, you had to look in that direction.”

“People think he’s just played three IPL games and that’s why he’s in the side. They must have been on holiday for six months when he was playing first-class cricket. They must’ve been somewhere in the jungle where there’s no contact with anyone in the world. When you go six months into a holiday, you miss those 600 runs,” Shastri concluded.

Also Read: IPL 2023: Ajinkya Rahane, Piyush Chawla and Mohit Sharma continue to prove ‘old is gold’ (cricfiles.com)

– IANS

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