New Delhi: With a stiff competition to retain a place in the India squad, the main mantra for Indian cricketers would be to maintain their form. Well, Ajinkya Rahane did do the same, isn't it? Four straight fifties on the trot against Australia yet he isn't part of the T20I squad that would take on the Aussies for a three-match series. And on Wednesday, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar expressed his disappointment over the team-selection panel for roping in KL Rahul ahead of Rahane for the T20I series.
Rohit Sharma's blistering ton at the VCA Stadium, Nagpur in the fifth and final ODI or India's new spin-twin Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav's deceptive deliveries might have stolen the spotlight away from Rahane, but one can't surely rule out his contribution in India's 4-1 series win over Australia.
Called in to fill in the opener's slot in place of Shikhar Dhawan, the right-handed batsman did falter in the Chennai ODI scoring just five runs. But he picked himself up to post four straight fifty-plus scores in the next four innings – 55, 70, 53, 61, to join an elite group of cricketers – Sunil Gavaskar, Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar. Earlier, Rahane was called as a replacement for Rohit Sharma in the Windies tour. He top scored in the ODI series and bagged the Man of the series title.
Despite consistency by his side, Rahane failed to spot his name in the 15-member list for the T20I series against Australia. Well, Shikhar Dhawan will make a return to his usual opening slot, but for Gavaskar, the concern hovers around KL Rahul's inclusion. He reckons that Rahane should have been given a chance in place of Rahul.
"Why is KL Rahul, who hasn't played the last five ODIs, picked ahead of Ajinkya Rahane. He has scored four consecutive fifties, why is he not in the T20I team," said Gavaskar in an interview to NDTV.
Looking at Rahul's numbers, following his Test wonders against Sri Lanka, the Karnataka-based cricketer was selected in the five-match ODI series against the Islanders. But Rahul faltered with the willow, abysmally. Even in the one-off T20I against Lanka, all he could manage was just a score of seven runs. Probably this is what Gavaskar has been pointing out. Rahane was out of the entire tour, but returned for the Australia series while Rahul warmed the bench for all of those five matches.
"Rahane's exclusion from the T20I squad is not understandable," added Gavaskar.
And what exactly did Rahane had to say about this – "Yes, so much cricket we play, the team management, selectors take a decision and we respect it. Speaking about the competition, it is necessary and it helps you to give your best performance. Whoever gets a chance does well for the team. I have always enjoyed the competition (among players)," Rahane had told reporters in Mumbai, on Monday.