BENGALURU: After playing seven matches for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, Ajinkya Rahane has been ruled out of the remaining matches of the tournament due to a hamstring injury. He picked up the injury in Kolkata’s match against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
He is unlikely to feature in the knockouts of the Ranji Trophy, India’s domestic first-class tournament, which are starting from June 4. After the IPL, the 33-year-old wanted to play Ranji Trophy to make a bid for his comeback to India’s Test team. But, alas, the hamstring injury has queered his pitch further.
Rahane performed miserably in the IPL 2022 and totted up only 133 runs in 7 matches at a meagre average of 19. His poor strike-rate, 103.91, encapsulates the tale of his travails. He had started off the tournament in a fine manner by scoring 44 runs in 34 balls against Chennai Super Kings in the first match. However, his performances tailed off abjectly after a one-off burst.
But this is not surprising at all. Rahane has been running on empty for the last two years. Since his superb 112 in the MCG Test against Australia in 2020, his record has been appalling. He has scored only 479 runs at a lowly average of 20.82 in 13 Tests. On the last South Africa tour, he managed only 136 runs from six innings and averaged 22.67. Due to his terrible form, he was removed as the vice-captain of the Test team in December 2021.
Later, he and Cheteshwar Pujara were axed from the Test squad for the home series against Sri Lanka in March.
Though Rahane has not played limited-overs cricket for India since 2018, he was an important member of the Test team till last year. In fact, in the absence of then regular Test captain Virat Kohli, he captained India on the Australia tour 2020-21 and won glowing adulation as he led the injury-ravaged side to the historic series win. But his form and fortunes plummeted soon after.
Apart from facing stinging flak for his atrocious form, Rahane has also been in the news for the wrong reasons. Earlier this year, in February, he sparked off a controversy by claiming that someone ‘stole’ his credit for the series victory in Australia.
“I know what I’ve done there. I don’t need to tell anyone. That’s not my nature to go and take credit. Yes, there were some things that I made on the field or in the dressing room but someone else took the credit for it. I never talk much about myself or praise myself. But what I did there, I knew,” he said in an interview.
His comments, at a time when he was being flayed for his poor form, were seen as an attempt to send a reminder to detractors of his undeniably stellar achievements of the past.
Rahane was aiming to regain form in the IPL 2022 and Ranji Trophy to make a case for his comeback in India’s Test squad. But his underwhelming show and injury have thrown a spanner in the works. Meanwhile, his comrade Pujara has blasted four centuries, including two double tons, for Sussex in the County season in England and has made a telling statement about his form.
So, is it the end of the road for Rahane? Whether in sports or life, one shouldn’t write off anyone. But it is evident that it will be an uphill task for Rahane to regain his place in the Test team.