Is Rahane currently the best test batsman in India, even better than Kohli?
Virat Kohli is one of the batting greats of the current generation, his record speaks for him and there is nobody close to him in the shorter versions of the game in the Indian batting line up. His feat of being the youngest to score 7000 ODI runs and fastest to 25 hundreds is a testimony to the fact that the man from Delhi is a runaway winner when it comes to ODI cricket. Kohli’s average of close to 50 in T20s again proves that the man who leads Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL is continuing his colossal image in the shortest version also.
Who is better in Tests?
The only form that is now remaining is the Test format. After the retirement of the Fab four of Indian batting line up, India has come up with Cheteshwar Pujara for number 3, Virat Kohli at number 4, Ajinkya Rahane at number 5 and Rohit Sharma at number 6. Out of these four Kohli and Rahane can lay claim to be the best batsman of the team. Virat Kohli is the leader of the side and bats at the coveted number 4 position from the moment the master Sachin Tendulkar retired. Virat started at number six but with VVS laxman retiring he moved on to five and Ajinkya Rahane batted at six. With Tendulkar retiring in 2013 they both have moved up a place. Rahane batted at number 3 for a couple of test matches in Srilanka and even got a hundred in doing so but number 5 is where he has been given a long rope and he has also shown an appetite for that position. They both have batted at other positions also but that’s miniscule when counting the overall aggregate.
So who is the best ?? Kohli or Rahane
Let’s start with stats, Kohli has played 41 tests and has got 2994 runs at an average of shade over 44 with 11 hundreds and 12 fifties with a high score of 169 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Compared to this Rahane has played only 22 tests and has got 1619 runs with an average of a shade under 45 with 6 hundreds and 7 fifties with a high score of 147 against Australia at MCG in the same innings in which Kohli got his highest score. The numbers suggests that the records, if you take the number of tests played by Rahane to the number of tests Kohli played arthmetically that is 41, he will end up nearing the same number of runs with around same credentials of centuries and half centuries.
Stats don’t tell all
But as a cricket fan and as purists of the game will tell you stats don’t always tell the complete story. From the time Tendulkar has retired India has played a series in (order of which happened first) South Africa, New Zealand, England, Australia, Sri Lanka and India. In the South Africa series Kohli announced himself as the heir apparent to the great Tendulkar and hit a hundred against Steyn and company to make the number 4 position his own. Rahane also hit a 96 in the second test at Durban to lay claim to the fact that he has the technique and the temperament to succeed at this level. By this time Kohli was a settled member of the side and Rahane was just playing his 3rd match.
In the next series both hit a century, 118 for Rahane and 105 for Kohli both coming in the second test of the series at Basin Reserve, Wellington.
The England Series and Rahane hundred at the Lords
This is the series where Kohli was found wanting and Anderson had him on the mat all throughout the series. Kohli did not had a single score of 50 during the 5 tests where as Rahane scored a hundred for ages on a green seaming Lord’s wicket which ended up in win and broke the long run of defeats India faced on foreign tours that lasted around 4 years. The last three tests both Rahane and Kohli failed but Rahane with that hundred at Lord’s made people sit and take notice that he is one of the best going around in the game of cricket.
The Australia series and the Kohli Show
The Australia series started with Dhoni not playing the first test due to injury and Kohli leading the side for the first time in tests. Kohli’s test form was a concern because of poor run in England and the challenge was also tougher taking on Mitchell Johnson and company in Australia plus leading the side. Kohli announced himself with twin hundreds but india failed and remained agonizingly short of the target but Kohli showed that he means business as a skipper and will lead from the front. At the MCG, during the third test both Rahane and Kohli came together and took Australia bowlers to the cleaners in a manner which made the greats of the game to remark that these two are the future of Indian cricket. Kohli got 4 centuries in the series and got back his reputation of being the best batsman of the team. He was also now the full time leader of the test team with Dhoni retring from tests.
The Sri Lanka Series
The Srilanka series started with Kohli scoring century in the first test but India lost and Rahane was moved to number 3 in the second test to accommodate Rohit Sharma in the line up. He responded with a scintillating hundred and India squared the series. India won the series but Kohli the batsman was overshadowed by Kohli the skipper.
The South Africa series
India were playing at home after a long break and the opponents were the number 1 test team in the world. The pitches were rank turners and the batsmen from both the sides struggled so much that till the fourth test there were no hundreds from any side. In the fourth test it changed and Rahane scored hundreds in both innings and remained the only batsman to do so during the series. Kohli also hit a well compiled 88 in the last test but Rahane showed that he was the better batsman during the series.
Now the question is who is the best batsman among the two? Both have performed well in challenging conditions, have failed also and came back with a bang. At this point let us enjoy the two current masters at their best and let the time decide for us.
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