- The fourth Test between India and England begins on Thursday
- Lately, the back-of-the-length delivery has been the chink in Vijay’s armour
- Rahane too has fallen to a couple of really bad shots
CHENNAI: Ajinkya Rahane and M Vijay are probably India’s two of the most consistent batsmen over the last two years in Tests. Virat Kohli & Co have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead over Alastair Cook’s men but Rahane’s barren run with the bat (13,1, 23, 26 & 0) and an inconsistent show from opener Vijay may well be a bit of a concern for Team India ahead of the fourth Test in Mumbai.
The sensational run of Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli, coupled with some solid batting by R Ashwin, have ensured that India doesn’t feel the pinch so much. But Rahane, who overcame a bouncer barrage against a spirited New Zealand pace attack to score a sensational 188 in Indore in October, has found life hard against the England spinners in the series. Thrice he has been dismissed by spinners out of the five innings. In fact, numbers say 24 out of his 48 dismissals in Tests have been against the spinners.
On the other hand, the England pace attack has had the measure of an assured-looking Vijay since his marathon 487-minute hundred in the first innings of the first Test at Rajkot to help India escape with a draw. The 32-year-old Chennai lad has carved a name for himself with his immaculate ability to judge the ball around his off-stump and shoulder arms with great conviction.
The England pacers have found a chink in his armour as they found the edge of Vijay’s blade with back-of-a-length deliveries around the fifth stump on four occasions on the trot. The right-hander has been dismissed behind the wicket -once by the keeper and thrice by the slip cordon – in his last four innings of 20, 3, 12 and 0.
However, former India selectors Kiran More and Saba Karim felt the two batsmen are good enough to overcome this mini slump in form. “Vijay and Rahane have done exceptionally well in all conditions. These sort of challenges come up regularly for international cricketers. It may be due to conditions or a particular line of attack by a particular pacer (as is the case with Vijay). They have to rework their strategies, work on technique, watch their videos so that they are able to overcome the weakness that crop up once in a while. That’s how one evolves as a Test player,” Karim told TOI on Sunday.
More kept it short. “I think both are doing well. It’s only two or three bad matches and it’s a part of a cricketer’s life. I don’t think so there are any flaws in their game,” added the former India stumper.
The way Rahane failed to read a googly off Aadil Rashid to be leg-before in the first innings of the Mohali Test came as a bit of a surprise to many. Indian batsmen, generally, pick legspinners from their hands, but the Mumbai man couldn’t to do so at a critical time and played down the wrong line.
Karim feels Rahane shouldn’t complicate things and keep it simple. “Rahane knows the areas he has to work on and batsmanship at the highest level is always an evolving process. He has been trying hard to improve his game against spinners. I’m sure with the kind of skill and temperament he possesses, he can overcome his troubles against spinners soon. He needs to spend some time at the wicket. It’s important to trust your defence against a turning ball. Once you start doing it, only then you can choose the right balls to attack. I’m sure he is working on it and will come good,” Karim remarked.