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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

After registering an whitewash of the in-form New Zealand team in the three match T20 series, India is all set to lock horns with the Black Caps for supremeacy in the two-match Test series starting Thursday at Kanpur.

In absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli, ace opener Ajinkya Rahane has been roped in to lead the team. However, many cricket experts feel that it’s a retrogressive decision by the BCCI.

Rahane, who was once a prolific batsman for India, has had his struggles with the bat of late. The right-handed batsman managed to score only 268 runs in four Tests against Australia last year. In the home series against England, he only averaged a paltry 18.66 for his 112 runs in six innings and notched up 49 and 15 in the World Test Championship finals before managing a meagre 109 runs at 15.57 in the four Test matches that followed.

With a number of young and talented cricketers at the disposal of the selectors on the back of some splendid and consistent performances in the IPL and domestic circuit, Rahane’s place in the national team is itself in danger. Under such circumstances, handing over the baton of captainship to the opener for the first Test against the Kiwis has raised many eyebrows.

Former cricketer and now politician Gautam Gambhir feels that Rahane is ‘fortunate’ enough to be playing in the team, let alone leading the team.

“Rahane is pretty fortunate that he’s still part of this side because he’s leading. But again he’s got another opportunity now, hopefully, he can make that count,” said the former southpaw.

Former Test opener Aakash Chopra has also questioned the decision to appoint Rahane the skipper, saying that his place in the squad was itself a big question.

“Let’s be honest. There were questions regarding Rahane’s selection for the final Test (against England) if the match had happened,” said Chopra.

“Rahane’s average has gone down massively in the past two years or so. There has been an odd good knock in between, but the average has fallen 20 points in the same period,” he said.

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