Statement of intent

SP

When he began his domestic career as an opener, Ajinkya Rahane was touted in local circles as the latest addition to the great stable of top-order batsmen that Mumbai have consistently managed to produce. However it was at No. 3, a position he dropped down to in his second season, that he raked up runs aplenty. His domestic average reached 60 and it seemed just a matter of time before the selectors would come calling. When they did eventually, Rahane was picked as an opener in limited-overs cricket, playing in 16 ODIs and seven T20s at that spot.

Back in the domestic circuit, the right-hander, however, he continued to bat one-drop for his state team despite Mumbai never having found a stable partner for Wasim Jaffer. But just when the youngster thought he had finally settled down at a number in the batting order, Rahane's quest to finding his true identity was thrown into further turmoil as he was roped in for the Test series against England as a reserve middle-order batsman. And now he is vying for a spot in the middle order, at No.6 in the Indian Test team.

One of Rahane's competitors for the middle order slot provided a timely reminder of his credentials with a stirring century in the Irani Cup on Thursday. And Suresh Raina couldn't have picked a better time either-with the squad for the Australian series to be picked at the conclusion of this match-to showcase his stroke-play along with a few ironed out attributes.

In fact there were a number of aspects of the left-hander's 134 at the Wankhede Stadium that would have tempted Patil & Co to repose their faith in Raina. For starters, despite the flatness of the wicket, the UP batsman showed that he had developed the maturity to rein in his belligerence and play the patience game. Recommencing his innings at 36, Raina decided to not chance his arm against the second new-ball, which had already accounted for Harbhajan Singh. He only scored eight runs of the first 30 balls he faced on the second morning despite ROI's tail having been exposed at the other end.

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