Ajinkya Rahane presents us a curious case – a runaway success in red ball cricket but still struggling to find his feet in the 50-overs version of the game. With at least one score of above 90 in all his last nine series, across eight countries, he is arguably India’s most valuable asset in the whites. But his One-Day International numbers tell a totally different story.
An average of 32.71 after 70 ODIs in more than five years since debut doesn’t augur too well for someone who bats in the top four more often than not. Among the nine players who scored over 1000 runs for India in ODIs since his debut, he has the lowest average and second lowest strike rate (79.31) after Ambati Rayudu (76.28).
Indian batsmen with 1000+ runs in ODIs since Rahane’s debut
Rahane made his debut during the ODI leg of India’s disastrous tour of England in 2011 where they failed to win a single match on the tour. He got his chances at the top of the order as Sachin Tendulkar was picking and choosing his appearances in limited overs internationals. He also played when England toured India later and after 10 ODIs his numbers read 340 runs at 34.00 with two fifties and a highest of 91. The numbers were hardly earth shattering but he gave an impression of someone solid at the top. From then till end of 2013, he appeared in eight ODIs covering six different series. He reached double figures just twice in these eight games and batted in three different positions.
With Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan establishing a successful opening combination, Rahane had to move to number four when he finally got his much awaited chance in New Zealand in early 2014. He did reasonably well in the middle order before going back to the top of the order when Rohit got injured. He scored two hundreds opening the batting but was pushed back to number four for the 2015 World Cup. 2015 turned out to be his most productive year, scoring 722 runs at 40.11 and he was the highest run-getter for India after the opening duo of Dhawan and Rohit.
Rahane at different batting positions
Rahane has done reasonably well at number four, averaging 37 and striking at 85 per 100 balls, both higher than his overall numbers. With injury to one of the regular openers, he has been once again slotted to face the new ball in the ongoing home series against New Zealand. His scores so far in the series read 33 off 34, 28 off 49 and five off 10.
Among the 35 batsmen who batted at least 50 times in the top four in ODIs since the start of 2011, Rahane’s number gives an extremely poor reading. He is 30th in the list of averages and is well behind his teammates Virat Kohli (55.78), Rohit (46.08) and Dhawan (44.60).
Batsmen with highest average in ODIs since 2011 (Min 50 inngs in top four)
|AB de Villiers||61||3106||149||55.46||108.6||10/15|
Rahane’s nemesis has been pace bowlers, with him falling most time to Steven Finn – six times in 15 ODIs. He has been dismissed 54 times by pacers and he averages just 29.13 against them. What is surprising is the fact that he averages even lower against them in Asia – 27.77. He has been dismissed by pacers 21 times before reaching double figures while the lowest score at which he got out to a spinner is 15. On the contrary, he averages 52 against spin in Asian conditions.
Pace vs Spin
Rahane has been dismissed within the first 25 balls of his innings 27 times, underlining how much of a bad starter he is. It can hardly be attributed to his effort to score runs at a fast clip as his strike rate of 67.86 suggests i.e. 17 runs off first 25 balls. His strike rate increases linearly as the innings progresses as can be seen from the table given below. He has been dismissed between the 51st and 75th ball 13 times, seven of those times after he crossed fifty, emphasising his inability to make it count after getting a start, unlike Kohli. And unlike his Mumbai teammate Rohit Sharma, he fails to score big and fast even after getting deep into the innings. Out of the nine innings in which he has faced more than 75 balls, he strikes at just above run-a-ball at 105. Rahane hits a boundary every 11.34 balls, which is only better than Rayudu’s 13.42 balls per boundary for any Indian player with at least 1000 runs since the former’s debut.
|1 to 25||925||27||34.25||67.86|
|26 to 50||730||17||42.94||85.58|
|51 to 75||351||13||27.00||97.22|
As already mentioned, Rahane is someone who has had immense success in the longer format while struggling in the shorter versions. Among the 47 players with 1000-plus runs in both formats since 2011, his difference of 18.66 between Test and ODI averages is only behind Younis Khan (33.33) and Steve Smith (20.64). While it can be said Younis was well past his best in the ODIs during this period, Smith’s high difference can be attributed to his extraordinary numbers in Test cricket. Rahane, however, remains a curios case.
|Shakib Al Hasan||40||1699||48.54||57||1732||34.64||13.90|
With KL Rahul rising fast among the ranks and the likes of Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Mandeep Singh waiting in the fringes, Rahane would want to maximize whatever opportunities coming his way in the few ODIs remaining before the Champions Trophy.