Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The whisper campaign against veteran batsman Ajinkya Rahane has now grown into a cacophony. His indifferent form and long lean patch has become a headache for the Indian team which is fighting hard in the 5-match Test series against England.

The fifth and final Test match of the series will be played at Old Trafford starting from Friday. Now the million dollar question is-will the Indian team management drop woefully out of form Rahane and give chances to talented players like Hanuma Vihari and Surya Kumar Yadav who have been warming the benches for quite a long time.

Since the memorable series victory in Australia, which was led from the front by the sedate batsman, the Indian vice-captain’s performance graph has dipped. He has just averaged around 19.5 in his last 19 innings with just two half centuries. The struggling right-hander has dropped to No.6 in the batting order and is at sea against James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali. Observers say, of late, he has developed many flaws and little time is left for him to make amends in his technique.

Except the match-winning hundred under extreme pressure at the MCG, Rahane has failed to impress since then. The half century at Lord’s in the second innings was an important knock, but these kinds of innings are not coming from him frequently.

Though Rahane still enjoys the backing of batting coach Vikram Rathour, how long should he be given the rope? An average of 39.63 for a dependable middle-order batsman with 78 Tests doesn’t augur well for him. That average has dipped further to 22.70 against England and he has gone without a hundred for 20 innings now.

The lean phase has just become too thick and fast for Jinx (as he is often fondly called by his teammates). Will he be able to overcome it with some stellar show in the last Test against England or is it going to be his long way back to the pavilion?