IPL 2022: Ajinkya Rahane – Boon or liability for Kolkata Knights?
After Kolkata Knight Riders bought Ajinkya Rahane at the IPL 2022 mega auctions in Bengaluru earlier this year, co-owner Juhi Chawla’s daughter Jhanvi Mehta said, “We have lost Shubman Gill who has never participated in the auction. Ajinkya can fulfill this role well, he will allow Venky Iyer to play his game very freely.
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Two months later, Miss Mehta could be biting her lip after the Indian veteran failed miserably at the top of the order. Averaging 16 in the first five games, Ajinka Rahane’s conservative approach inside the power play has only compounded KKR’s problems.
Short of a 44 against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the 2022 IPL opener, Rahane’s scores read 9, 12, 7 and 8 before being replaced by Australian Aaron Finch against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday raised questions about the usefulness of this veteran Indian batsman.
Bought at a base price of INR 1 crore, Rahane was KKR’s first purchase on day two of the IPL 2022 auction in February. The two-time IPL champions have also acquired the services of hard-hitting fly-half Alex Hales to possibly team up with Venkatesh Iyer, following the Englishman’s exploits in the 2022 Pakistan Super League.
However, the sudden withdrawal of Alex Hales from IPL due to bubble fatigue left KKR with no choice but to accompany Rahane with Venkatesh Iyer leading the order.
The move completely backfired as Rahane’s inflexibility early in the innings forced Iyer to play the anchor role – something that doesn’t sit well with head coach Brendon’s aggressive style of play. McCullum.
Having scored 4021 points in 156 IPL matches so far, Ajinkya Rahane’s credentials should not be in question. But in this ruthless T20 format where only runs and wickets matter, the 33-year-old is looking to be a misfit. In the last two seasons, Rahane could only manage 11 IPL games scoring 121 points.
Nostril an option
It’s too early to judge Aaron Finch after his seven-pointer against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday, but KKR also has the chance to open the bat with Sunil Narine.
In his role as a pincher, Narine started opening the innings for KKR in 2017 and transformed into a phenomenal ball striker. Narine’s breakthrough season as an IPL fly-half came in the 2018 season when he scored 357 points in 16 games, including a career-high 75 against the Punjab Kings.
Sunil Narine also made headlines in the recently concluded Bangladesh Premier League and was one of the architects of Comilla Victorians’ winning campaign. If he couldn’t do much with the ball, the West Indian balanced it with the bat when it counted with two fifty-year-olds including one in the final.