• Ajinkya Rahane has struggled, scoring just 109 runs in 4 Test in England
  • Rahane was dismissed for 0 in the 2nd innings of the Oval Test on Sunday
  • VVS Laxman feels Hanuma Vihari might get an opportunity in the 5th Test

Former India batsman VVS Laxman feels it’s time for Team India to give Ajinkya Rahane a break after the vice-captain’s struggles in the ongoing Test series against England. Rahane has scored 109 runs in 4 Tests at an average of 15.57, failing to contribute to the middle order at crunch situations.

Ajinkya Rahane got out for 0 in the 2nd innings of the 4th Test at Oval in good batting conditions where the other India batsmen made hay. While Rohit Sharma hit a hundred, the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur hit fifties and captain Virat Kohli chipped in with a crucial 44.

It was a crucial knock for Rahane as India needed a senior batter to hang in with Virat Kohli after the top 3 had made merry. However, Rahane struggled to put bat to ball. He was saved by a review after Chris Woakes hit him on the pads but Rahane was not able to make use of the opportunity as he was dismissed for 0 by Woakes when he was trapped in front while trying to play a cross-batted shot as early as the 8th delivery of his innings.

Since his match-winning hundred in the Melbourne Test against Australia last year, Rahane has averaged less than 20 in 11 Tests and his form or the lack of it has been hurting India’s prospects and team combination in the longest format of the game.

“It’s time to give Rahane a break. I am not sure of what the future holds for him. He is a quality player and I always believe that quality players come back into the team. But, the kind of form and confidence he has shown and the body language when he was out there in the middle Not once during his eight-ball innings did Ajinkya Rahane look convincing,” Laxman told ESPNCricinfo.

Promoting Jadeja to No. 5 is a clear sign: Laxman

Laxman added that Ravindra Jadeja getting promoted to No. 5 in both the innings of the Oval Test shows the team management’s mindset when it comes to Rahane’s form.

“Promoting Jadeja in the second innings, the message is very clear. At the moment, the team management feels that Ajinkya Rahane is not in great rhythm, he is out of touch and low on confidence,” he added.

Laxman also added that Hanuma Vihari, who also played county championship before the Test series in England, might get a look in for the 5th Test in Manchester, starting September 10.

However, batting coach Vikram Rathour on Sunday said India is not concerned about Rahane’s form and the team management will continue to back its vice-captain, hoping he will return to form sooner than later.

“You don’t want to go into a Test match with that kind of a mindset, especially in case of a senior batsman. I just feel, come the Old Trafford Test match, there may be a change and Vihari may get a chance ahead of Ajinkya Rahane,” Laxman added.

An exciting Day 5 awaits fans at the Oval as England need 291 more to script an incredible victory on a placid pitch after their openers took them to stumps on Day 4 at 77 for 0.

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