‘Story could’ve been different…’: Gavaskar feels IND missed Rahane in 1st Test | Cricket

Kagiso Rabada did not play any international game after South Africa’s heartbreaking semi-final exit in the ODI World Cup last month. He hasn’t even trained much amid injury concerns which almost ruled him out of the Test series against India, let alone the opener in Centurion. But the South African speedster had a dream day at the SuperSport Park on Tuesday, where he bounced out India captain Rohit Sharma and outsmarted Virat Kohli with an unplayable ball before completing his five-wicket haul. And as Rabada completely rocked the Indian batting line-up with two of the most intimidating and incisive spells bowled in recent times, with India left struggling at 176 for 7 at tea on Day 1, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar rued the absence of Ajinkya Rahane. (India vs South Africa Live Score 1st Test Day 1)

Sunil Gavaskar feels India missed Ajinkya Rahane in India vs South Africa 1st Test

Rahane was dropped in early 2022 after a string of poor scores in Test cricket along with Cheteshwar Pujara with India hinting that they want to move past the two senior batters. While Pujara later scripted a comeback that same year with a stellar performance in County cricket, Rahane spent the next 12 months in the wilderness, with only the avid followers of the game knowing his whereabouts. In 2023, the 35-year-old made a remarkable comeback for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as he forced his way back into the Test side after Shreyas Iyer was unavailable for selection owing to an injury. Rahane was picked for the WTC final, where he scored a fighting fifty, albeit in a losing cause and was then named as the vice-captain for the tour of West Indies before being dropped yet again for the South Africa contest.

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With India struggling against the South African pace attack on Tuesday, where Rabada picked up a fi-fer while debutant Nandre Burger struck twice with the new ball to remove Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill in the opening half-hour, Gavaskar, on air, reckoned that India’s score in the Centurion Test could have been different had they picked Rahane for the match.

The legendary batter recalled the Johannesburg Test match from the 2018/19 series where Rahane, dropped from the opening two games, had scored a valiant 48 on a demonic track in the final tie of the contest to help India secure a 63-run win.

“People have been talking about the pitch in Johannesburg Test five years back and I was there. Yeah it wasn’t the easiest of pitches to bat on the odd ball was climbing up. And Ajinkya Rahane, who had not been picked for the first two Test matches, was picked for that game and he showed what the Indian team had missed because earlier on in the first couple of Test matches India did not lose by big margins. So maybe somebody with Rahane’s experience overseas… because Rahane overseas has been such a fine, fine player and maybe if he had been there today the story could have been completely different,” Gavaskar said on commentary on Star Sports.

India, however, huffed and puffed their way past the 200-run mark in the final session on Day 1, courtesy of KL Rahul’s stunning half-century while batting at No.6 for only the second time in his career and first time in eight years.

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