Ajinkya Rahane suddenly became one of India’s biggest celebrated heroes after India conquered Australia under his exemplary leadership in the absence of their regular skipper Virat Kohli. There was even some talk to make Rahane the regular skipper of the Indian Test side and let Virat focus only on his batting.
But things started turning upside down soon and the journey of Rahane in international cricket hasn’t been a smooth one since then. He was seen struggling badly in the recent tour of England and scored just 109 runs in 7 innings at a dismal average of 15.57. He was seen being vulnerable against the balls pitched around the off stump or fourth stump channel on the good length or short of good length. What was the exact reason for this vulnerability? In this article, I have tried my best to explain the possible technical issue behind this and its solution.
Let’s have a look at it.
A more open stance in 2021 as compared to 2014.
As we can clearly notice, in the image below (image 1), Rahane’s bat used to face the mid on in 2014, which is now facing almost the cow corner while taking guard. Also, his leg stump is almost visible in the second picture unlike the first one despite placing his back leg along the same line on both the occasions. These facts indicate that he has a slightly more open stance now as compared to that he had in 2014.
(IMAGE 1 SHOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RAHANE’S STANCES IN 2014 AND 2021)
When he had a more side-on stance, his front foot was much closer to the line of the leg stump at the time of taking guard. He had a slight backfoot trigger movement followed by a gentle front foot movement towards the leg stump line to come to his neutral position before the delivery of the ball. In his neutral position, his front foot was almost in the line of his leg stump (image 2).
These methods were instrumental for him in two ways. Firstly, Ajinkya Rahane was covering the line of the ball pitched around the off stump on the good length more accurately and playing the ball much closer to his body. Secondly, his side-on stance was helping him to play those balls late through the square of the wicket, which is an important aspect of batting against the moving ball in England (image 3).
But his open stance seems to be a root cause of his problems against the moving ball at the moment. Due to the open stance, his front foot starts far from the leg stump line (image 4) and ends beyond the leg stump even after the completion of its movement (image 5).
Therefore, he is bound to take his front foot much across to get closer to the off-stump line, which destabilizes his position while playing the ball and makes him a candidate for LBW against the balls coming into him from the good length. We can clearly see from the picture that his front foot is facing almost the extra cover, which suggests that he has taken it much across the line (image 6).
This also makes Ajinkya Rahane approach the ball instead of waiting for it; evident from the fact that his bat is facing the cover as we can see in the picture below (image 7).
Basically, he is playing the ball a bit earlier than he should and his open stance prevents him from playing the ball through square of the wicket after covering the movement of the ball. This is what makes him vulnerable against these types of deliveries.
The only solution to his problem, it appears, is that he should take a more side-on stance that he used to do in the initial phase of his career while batting against the moving ball. This will enable him to get a better idea of his off stump and play the ball late through square of the wicket.
This is a take on Ajinkya Rahane’s possible technical issue, especially against the moving ball at present and its solution.
Have a read and share your thoughts!