Sanjay Manjrekar, former India middle order batsman and current Cricket commentator, talked about the reason behind Ajinkya Rahane being first choice for the number 5 slot in Test Cricket.
Manjrekar feels that although Rahane may not be the batsman he used to be during his first two years in Test cricket, but he is still good enough to be India’s number five in the traditional format. Comparing him to KL Rahul, who has done well in the recent past in white ball Cricket, he explained, “KL Rahul has been brilliant at number five. Yes granted, Rahane doesn’t look the same player he was in the first two years of his Test career and I would like to see that kind of form coming back. The last time he (Rahul) played Test cricket, he wasn’t that impressive and let’s not get too carried away with a batsman getting runs in T20 and 50 overs cricket and push into Test match cricket. So, (for) KL Rahul to nudge the Indian batsman at the Test level in the middle-order, he will have to get a truckload of runs at the domestic level, just like (Mayank) Agarwal did to get in the Indian team.”
Although Rahane has been scoring runs of late, but Manjrekar feels that he would ideally like to be more consistent. He said, “It comes in little sparse, sometimes, but not as consistently as he would like. But based on his runs that he has got, I don’t think it is right to think of Rahul at number five in Test matches.”
Manjrekar, who played 37 Test matches for India scoring 2,043 runs, then went on to talk about his ideal choice for the opening slot during the 4 Test match series against Australia later this year. He chose Rohit Sharma along with Mayank Agarwal as his first choice opening batsmen, with Prithvi Shaw being a reserve option.
He said, “The last time India played a test match (in Australia), Rohit Sharma wasn’t available. Shaw and Mayank Agarwal were the opening batsmen. And I thought, Shaw with the kind of technique that he has in those kinds of conditions, those pitches, a bit okay, actually more than okay. But if Rohit Sharma is fit and then he comes in Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma actually would be the openers and Prithvi Shaw would be your second option.”
When asked about his opinion on split captaincy and whether India requires the same, Manjrekar replied, “Now, my theory of split captaincy is that you don’t go looking to have split captaincy. So if you are fortunate to have a captain, who is good in all three formats and still a good captain, then you don’t need split captaincy. At the moment, you have Virat Kohli, who is excellent in all three formats, so there is no need for India to look at split captaincy, there might come a time in the future, who knows India might start looking for split captaincy.”
“If India come to a situation where they have an excellent test captain and test player, but not good enough to be in 50 over and T20, then maybe you have a different captain. But, India at the moment are quite blessed and in the past as well, Dhoni was the same, when he was captaining all three formats, he was pretty good in all three formats,” he concluded.