Twitter went into overdrive as former India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane returned to the national side for the World Test Championship final against Australia in England.

While some called him an “absolute fighter”, others labeled him a “magician”.

A few even remembered his contribution while catching in the slip cordon and India's historic Test series victory in Australia in 2021-22.


Ajinkya Rahane had been out of the Indian cricket team since January 2022 after a string of poor scores, including his last series against South Africa. The Indian selectors eventually dropped him from the series against Sri Lanka at home in February.

However, a consistent run with the bat in the domestic circuit followed by a series of sensational performances for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) ensured Ajinkya Rahane's comeback to the national set-up as the selectors were mightily impressed by his composure and ability to deliver the goods under pressure.

In the ongoing IPL, Ajinkya Rahane has been MS Dhoni's go-to-man, with the 34-year-old continuously producing some of his most memorable batting displays when it mattered.

In a recent contest against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the iconic Eden Gardens, he slammed a whirlwind 29-ball 71 to guide CSK to a score of 235 before leading the visitors to a 49-run victory over the hosts. His knock included five massive sixes and six crisp boundaries.

In addition to Ajinkya Rahane's form, luck has also gone by his side. With Shreyas Iyer out of action due to a back injury, the Mumbai resident got another shot at redemption as the Indian selectors recalled Ajinkya Rahane due to his record in England, where he has played some of his best Test knocks.

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Ajinkya Rahane's return to the India Test squad is all the more surprising given that he was excluded from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) central contract list of players for the 2023-24 season last month. In the season earlier, he was a contracted player, with the BCCI handing him a Grade B contract.

Ajinkya Rahane was the senior pro who was one of the key players for Mumbai during the 2022-23 Ranji season. In the top domestic competition, the former India vice-captain made 634 runs in 11 innings, including two centuries at an average of 57.63.

“I don't want to prove anything to anyone. I think my competition is with myself. If I stick to that, things will fall into place. I don't want to run after anything… just want to back my game,” Rahane had said in response to a question about his return to the Indian side.

Among the ones supporting Ajinkya Rahane was Sunil Gavaskar.

“I don't want to prove anything to anyone. I think my competition is with myself. If I stick to that, things will fall into place. I don't want to run after anything… just want to back my game,” Rahane had said in response to a question about his return to the Indian side.

“That was the only change needed for the Indian side. They needed a replacement for Shreyas Iyer. Ajinkya Rahane finds himself in the WTC squad not because of his current IPL form, mind you, he was in a pretty decent form in the Ranji Trophy. He did very well for Mumbai in the domestic season. The question now is in the final eleven, who's going to be playing? Whether it will be KS Bharat the wicket-keeper or KL Rahul. We'll just have to wait and see,” Sunil Gavaskar told Star Sports.

Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill will be my opening picks, Cheteshwar Pujara at three, Virat Kohli at four, Ajinkya Rahane at five, KL Rahul at six who'll keep the wickets as well. Then there will be Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, followed by Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Shami and Mohd Siraj,” Sunil Gavaskar concluded.

Meanwhile, former India spinner Harbhajan Singh took a swipe at the national selectors after they dropped the explosive Suryakumar Yadav and included the veteran Ajinkya Rahane in the Rohit Sharma-led squad announced to face Australia in the ICC World Test Championship final at the Kennington Oval in London in England in June.

It would be India's second consecutive title clash in the prestigious competition after losing the maiden edition to New Zealand in 2021.

“He has captained India in so many matches and is a brilliant player a well. He has a great technique. I feel the decision has been taken keeping in mind his present form and hence has been recalled because Shreyas Iyer is still not part of the team. And with Iyer absent, it serves an opportunity to Rahane and it's a big match. He is a big player as well and I hope he gives that big performance to justify the selection. I support this selection 100 per cent and I feel it is a great decision. There was actually no other solution other than this,” Harbhajan Singh said on his YouTube channel.

Describing Suryakumar Yadav as a Rishabh Pant and Adam Gilchrist-like player, Harbhajan Singh said that Ajinkya Rahane deserved a spot in the Indian Test team. But he termed the Mumbai Indians' star's omission questionable.

“The one person who has missed this tour is Suryakumar Yadav. He should have been part of the team. Maybe instead of carrying three spinners, they could have carried an extra batter. Because you need that one batsman in the middle order who can destroy the opposition and only Suryakumar could have done that. He first got him into the Test team because he was in great form. Yes he has had a rough patch of 4-5 matches but if IPL is the criteria for selection for other players then even he should have been picked, even he has found that rhythm,” the former India off-spinner added.

“When Gilchrist used to come in the middle for Australia, at No.6-7, he would destroy the bowlers. So you need a batter in the line-up who can play baseball cricket like Rishabh Pant. India will miss Suryakumar during this tour,” Harbhajan Singh elaborated.