Former Indian head coach Ravi Shastri revealed why the team management dropped Ajinkya Rahane from the playing XI during the first two Tests against South Africa in 2018.
Team India toured South Africa for three Tests, six ODIs, and three T20Is in 2018. The Virat Kohli-led side lost the Test series 2-1 but dominated the hosts in the limited-over games.
Team India suffered two disappointing losses in the first two Tests in Cape Town and Centurion respectively but came back stronger in the third Test in Johannesburg to avoid a whitewash. The visitors had their chances to win the first two Tests but they failed to cross the finishing line in both matches.
The Virat Kohli-led side preferred Rohit Sharma ahead of then vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane in the middle-order. But the move didn’t pay off as the former scored only 78 runs in four innings at 19.50 and his failure was one of the reasons for India’s losses in the first two Tests.
As India lost the first two Tests, they received a lot of flak for dropping Ajinkya Rahane, who came back for the third Test and scored vital 48 runs in the second innings to help the visitors win by 63 runs.
Speaking to Times of India, Ravi Shastri, who was India’s coach during the South Africa tour 2018, revealed the reason behind dropping Ajinkya Rahane from the side.
The former Indian cricketer said that there was no space to play both batters and they preferred Rohit Sharma ahead of Ajinkya Rahane because he was in good form and he was Test hungry.
"It was always going to be between Rohit & Ajinkya. There was no space for both. Rohit had got runs and we had been watching Test hunger build in him. So, we went by form. That's why Ajinkya didn't find a place,” Ravi Shastri said.
India is now scheduled to play three Tests and three ODIs in South Africa. The tour will kick off with the Boxing Day Test from December 26 at SuperSport Park, Centurion followed by the second Test at Johannesburg from January 3 to 7. The final Test will take place in Cape Town from January 11 to 15.
The three-ODI series will be played from 19th January to 23rd January.
Notably, after a lean patch of runs Ajinkya Rahane lost his Test vice-captaincy to Rohit Sharma. Virat Kohli will lead the side in the longest format of the game while Rohit Sharma will lead the side in ODIs against South Africa.