Ajinkya Rahane’s inclusion in India’s 15-member squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final, set to take place in June at The Oval, has been met with mixed reactions. While Rahane’s recent performances in both domestic and IPL cricket have been impressive, critics have expressed concerns that his selection indicates the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is prioritizing the Indian Premier League (IPL) over the Ranji Trophy when making selections.
Rahane, who last represented India in Tests 15 months ago, has been in fine form in the domestic circuit, where he captained Mumbai in the 2022-23 Ranji Trophy. Scoring 634 runs from 11 innings at an average of 57.63, he also made his mark in the ongoing IPL season. As part of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Rahane has scored 209 runs in five innings, boasting a remarkable strike rate of 199.04.
However, some argue that Sarfaraz Khan, who has excelled in the Ranji Trophy with an average of 92.66 from 9 innings, should have been considered instead. Critics claim that Rahane’s IPL performance may have played a significant role in his selection, undermining the importance of the Ranji Trophy in the process. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Sarfaraz’s vulnerability against high-quality seam attacks could be a reason for BCCI’s preference for Rahane, who has already played 82 Tests for India.
While the controversy persists, many cricket fans have expressed hope for a strong performance from Rahane in the WTC final. India reached the final of the inaugural WTC in 2021 but lost to New Zealand in a rain-affected match. This time, the team is eager to claim the trophy and end their ICC title drought.
In addition to Rahane, the WTC final squad features notable changes. Shardul Thakur has been included over the fourth spinner Kuldeep Yadav, and wicketkeeper options are limited to KL Rahul and KS Bharat, with Ishan Kishan not making the cut. Shreyas Iyer is ruled out due to injury, while KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav have been replaced in the middle order.
The WTC final will see India face off against Australia from June 7 to 11 at The Oval in London. India’s recent 2-1 triumph in the 4-match Border-Gavaskar Test series against Australia has set high expectations, but playing away from home may prove challenging.