Will Rahane's long wait for Test debut finally end?
With the series in their pocket, it will be interesting to see if India hand Ajinkya Rahane a long-awaited Test debut in New Delhi, says Harish Kotian
Ajinkya Rahane's long wait may finally end as he set to make his Test debut in the fourth and final Test against Australia, starting in New Delhi on Friday.
With opener Shikhar Dhawan ruled out due to injury and the selectors making a surprise selection in Suresh Raina, it is only logical that Rahane gets the nod.
If selected, it will end a long wait for Rahane, who has been travelling with the Indian team for the last 15 months but has failed to get even a single opportunity to play so far.
In between his role changed from the original one of an opener to a middle order batsman and it remains to be seen which role he plays in Delhi.
Rahane's batting position is not certain
Rahane started out as opener in junior cricket and even played the first few years of his domestic cricket at the top before switching to No. 3.
So it would make sense if the team management make a straight swap of Dhawan for Rahane as an opener, but even that is not confirmed yet. There is a theory that Cheteshwar Pujara may open the innings in Delhi, while Rahane could bat at No. 3 or at No. 5.
With India having taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the match-series, India has the best opportunity to test the abilities of Rahane, who has forced his way into the Test team on the basis of his consistent performances in domestic cricket.
But at the same time the inclusion of Raina for the Delhi Test is a major surprise. The left-hander has an ordinary record of 768 runs in 17 Tests at an average of 28.44 with has just a single half-century in his last nine Test innings.
Rahane might benefit from Raina's failings
He failed to do enough in domestic cricket scoring 304 runs in six matches at an average of 33.77 with just a century and a fifty in 10 innings.
From the look of things, Raina has come up as back-up player in the squad and barring an injury or two he might not get a go.
With the series in their pocket, it will be interesting if India also try rookie Ashok Dinda, thereby giving him his first taste of Test cricket.
With the series whitewash in their sight, India will be keen to pick a winning combination and complete a 4-0 series whitewash, which will be a perfectly revenge for the humiliation they suffered Down Under around 15 months back.