Mumbai: Joining the debate over Ajinkya Rahane’s batting order in Tests, former India captain Rahul Dravid said today he prefers his one-time Rajasthan Royals teammate to bat at no. 5 and not one-down, a position he was sent in the last two Tests in Sri Lanka recently. “He’s good at no. 5, or even 4, because of his ability to play with the tail-enders, the range of shots he possesses and for the opportunity he would get to face the second new ball too,” a visibly reluctant Dravid told former Test opener Aakash Chopra at the launch of the latter’s book “The Insider” here.
It was interesting to note that Rahane was sitting by his side on the dais when Chopra put the question to the 42- year-old cricket legend, “Ajinkya at no. 3 or 5, what do you want?” The debate has arisen as Rahane, who has been the most consistent of all Indian middle order batsmen on the overseas tours to South Africa, New Zealand, England and South Africa – at no. 5 – was asked to bat at no. 3 in the second and third Tests against Lanka, both played at Colombo and won by India for a 2-1 series win, after he had batted at no. 5 in the lost first Test at Galle.
While scoring a second innings century for a winning cause at the P Sara Oval in the second Test, Rahane failed to reach double figures in the other three innings in which he batted at no. 3. His Mumbai teammate Rohit Sharma, who flopped at no. 3 in the series opener, made two half centuries (79 and 50) and also got good starts in the other two innings in which he was demoted to no. 5 – the slot previously occupied by Rahane. Another cricket legend, Sunil Gavaskar, was scathing in his views about the change in batting order during the second Test while talking to a TV channel.
“I have just got to be blunt. They have just sacrificed a good man. He’s one of those nice and quiet guys who won’t say anything. He has been pushed to number three when he had success at number five. It’s hard on him. “But he will do whatever is needed. He comes from Rahul Dravid school. Rahul had also batted at no. 3 and 5. He’s Rahane’s mentor and he (Rahane) will do the same thing,” Gavaskar said.