'He has a point to prove' - Gavaskar picks out 'crucial' cog in India's WTC plans
Sunil Gavaskar picked out a darkhorse warrior of the Indian team prior to the much-anticipated World Test Championship (WTC) final clash against Australia at The Oval. The legend believes this cornered tiger could be a vital cog in India's wheels as they take on the arch-rivals for WTC 2021-23 supremacy, two months after beating them to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
For the legendary batter, that darkhorse is fellow Mumbaikar and comeback middle-order stalwart Ajinkya Rahane, who was handed over a surprise call-up by the selectors earlier this month amidst the spree of injuries.
Rahane had been dropped by the think-tank after a sustained dip in his performances in the aftermath of India's disappointing 2-1 series loss in South Africa early last year. However, with Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer sidelined, the 34-year-old has reaped the rewards for a fruitful return to Ranji Trophy cricket last winter.
The experienced head captained Mumbai astutely and top-scored in their campaign with 634 runs in his 11 innings at an average of 57.63, featuring two hundreds and the best of 204. Since then, the batter has also enjoyed an encouraging IPL 2023 campaign for Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
Gavaskar bats for Rahane ahead of WTC final
Speaking to Star Sports with only a week to go before the first ball is bowled in the marquee India-Australia clash, Gavaskar backed Ajinkya Rahane to make an inspiring comeback at the top-level game.
The former captain insisted that the Indian No.5 will walk in with a "point to prove" to his naysayers, who would've fumed at his selection when the decision-makers were expected to spread the talent net wider and focus on youngsters.
"He’s got a lot of experience having played in England, having scored runs in England. So, yes, I think he is going to be crucial down at number 5. And yes, I do believe he has a point to prove, I still feel he has got plenty of cricket left in him, and this is a wonderful opportunity for him," Gavaskar said.
"I’m hoping he will be able to grab this opportunity with all the experience that he has and make a place for him back in the Indian team," he added.
Rahane would be desperate to prove Gavaskar's words right when he faces upto the mighty Australian pace attack in difficult conditions in England. The batter was at the receiving end of brutal criticism from most corners during his period of strife and axing from the team. The WTC final is an opportunity for the elegant right-hander to stand resurrected.