Rahane or Nair?
customaryformosttop-notchcricketteams,India included, to hold their cards as close to the chest as possible when it comes to team compositions. ‘Don’t announce it till you have to’ is the unwritten motto, which is typically at the time of the toss. But Anil Kumble, though not breaking from tradition, gave quite a few hints to the way the XI might look come Thursday, when India take on Bangladesh in their one-off Test match at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal. And the most interesting thought, if what we are reading between the Indian coach’s lines is correct, is that Karun Nair, who scored 303 not out in the last Test match India played against England in Chennai last month, might have to sit out to accommodate Ajinkya Rahane.
A finger injury sustained during the third Test against England, in Mohali, had ruled Rahane out of the remainder of that series and Nair, who had made his debut in the third Test, stayed on in the XI. Not just that, he scored a rapid 381-ball triple century to help India to an innings-and-75-run win and take home the Man of the Match award. When India play their next Test, Nair might be water boy again.
“We still haven’t thought about the combination but it’s nice that Karun took his opportunity and did what he did in Chennai,” said Kumble on Tuesday.
“It’s fantastic for a young cricketer to come in and score a triple hundred. But we know what Ajinkya has done for this team. Ajinkya’s performances have been phenomenal across conditions.
“It’s nice that somebody who has come in to replace Ajinkya because of the injury in Mumbai, then in just three or four innings he was able to score a triple century. So it’s nice to have to have that kind of contribution and that kind of ability from the youngsters.” Just a hint. Nothing more. Who knows how things will pan out in the day and a half between now and that toss? India might even revert to the six-batsman plan if they choose to.