Zaheer Khan believes that Ajinkya Rahane is most likely to be included in India's playing XI for the fifth-Test against England at Old Trafford, despite the latter’s inconsistent run in recent times. Khan stated how swapping Rahane from the squad could make all the difference for the India team.
India won the fourth-Test at The Oval after bundling the visitors for 210 runs on the final day, sealing the contest by 157 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
While there have been notable contributions from both batting and bowling department throughout the series, Ajinkya Rahane's poor run has been a major cause of concern. Rahane has only scored 109 runs across the first four Tests, with a highest of 61 coming in the second game at Lord's.
Zaheer Khan has expressed his concerns regarding the vice-captain's recent form, but believes that the management will persist with him at Old Trafford.
"See, what I said in my opinion, and what I saw, suggests that Rahane should not get a place in the team. But what we have seen from the team so far, their approach shows that we will see Rahane playing in the match,’’ said Zaheer during an interaction with Cricbuzz.
He further stated that since India were going into the fifth-Test following an impressive victory, Rahane could be backed with sufficient confidence to have another go.
"Because the environment was different last time, this time they are coming off a win. Sometimes, players are given confidence. and they are told that you are backed by the team. You are a strong member of the batting unit, and we are confident with your abilities; so go out and perform well,’’ he stated.
The former pacer then went on to explain that Rahane could have already been removed from the team, had the management showed confidence on the benched players. Hanuma Vihari and Suryakumar Yadav are the most likely candidates to replace India's No.5. Vihari's last appearance came in Sydney at the start of the year, while Yadav is yet to make his Test debut.
"If the team had enough confidence in the players on the bench, we would have seen Ajinkya Rahane being dropped in the previous match itself. Because change showed good results; changes were made in the bowling unit last match, and the result was good, so why not do the same with batting. If we think in that direction, I think the chamge should be made with Rahane,’’ Zaheer said.
The fifth-Test is scheduled to start on Friday, September 10, at Old Trafford, Manchester.