Iyer must not be dropped at any cost, and neither should Mayank Agarwal, who hasn’t got enough opportunities to find his rhythm back in a stop-start Test career.

With regular skipper Virat Kohli rested, and KL Rahul ruled out due to injury, Shreyas Iyer made his Test debut in the first match against New Zealand in Kanpur. Questions were raised over his selection in the playing XI since many felt Suryakumar Yadav deserved the opportunity first as he had made it to the squad before Iyer. However, the 26-year-old proved that his selection was the right one in every aspect, creating history. Iyer scored 105 and 65 in the two innings in Kanpur, thus becoming the first Indian batter to hit a hundred and a fifty on his Test debut. He couldn’t have asked for a better start. 

In contrast, Ajinkya Rahane, who was ironically named captain for the 1st Test in Kanpur despite his long run of poor form, had another forgettable game. He was dismissed for 35 and 4. Rahane looked in decent touch in the first innings but could not convert the start into a bigger and more substantial knock. In the second essay, he looked completely out of sorts. Iyer’s brilliant debut and another failure for Rahane has put Team India in a major difficulty as far as the batting line-up is concerned ahead of the second Test in Mumbai. Everyone in the Indian think tank has been non-committal about the team combination for the next match.

Iyer deserves to be retained ahead of Rahane 

Whatever decision Team India makes for the next Test, someone would have to make way for Kohli, who will be back in charge of the side for the Mumbai encounter. Some critics believe that Rahane might get another chance to prove his worth in the second Test, which will be played at his home ground. 

From Kohli to Ravi Shastri and Vikram Rathour (batting coach) to Rahul Dravid (head coach), everyone has been batting for Rahane. But the big question is, till when? When was the last time Rahane scored a Test hundred has already become a popular cricketing question. But the bigger problem is that Team India’s Test vice-captain did not have a great run on either side of Boxing Day hundred as well, which he scored last year.

From the start of January 2017 till date, which is more than half his career, Rahane has featured in 47 Tests and has scored 2523 runs at an average of 34.09 with only four hundreds. These numbers don’t inspire much confidence. The Indian cricketer has been lucky to have been given such a huge rope in international cricket. At least five-Test careers would have ended by now had other players been given so many opportunities and failed. Despite all this, if Rahane has not been able to live up to the expectations, it speaks a lot about the extent to which he has underperformed.

Why dropping Iyer would be unfair

Okay, so Iyer was not the first choice in the playing XI and only got in due to injuries. But now that he had grabbed his opportunities with both hands, will it be fair to drop him, that too, in favour of a non-performing senior? Definitely not. Something similar happened in 2016 when Karun Nair was dropped despite having smashed a triple hundred against England. That time too, Nair made way for Rahane. But the case was different at that time. Rahane was in his prime at that point, and some experts even supported the decision. 

Under the current circumstances, though, Rahane is the one who should be dropped to allow Kohli to come back into the playing XI. Iyer must not be dropped at any cost, and neither should Mayank Agarwal, who hasn’t got enough opportunities to find his rhythm back in a stop-start Test career. Keeping all emotions aside, India will need to make a clinical decision in the team’s best interest, which is no rocket science. But the question is, will they make the tough call?

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