Rahane’s exclusion from limited-overs squad a ‘surprise’ for Vengsarkar

Former batsman Dilip Vengsarkar — one of the anchors of India’s historic series win in England in 1986 — shares his insights on the upcoming tour in July.

Dilip Vengsarkar believes Rahane would have been “the right person to hold the middle-order.”   -  Thulasi Kakkat

In the summer of 1986, before the entry of Sachin Tendulkar — the top run-getter for India in England — Dilip Vengsarkar spelt menace. The Englishmen, those days, strategised mostly for Sunil Gavaskar, another prolific run-getter in England. The legend, approaching twilight in his career, perhaps had a sense of satisfaction witnessing class from a fellow Mumbaikar.

Vengsarkar, a solid No. 4, bossed around the English bowlers. He is remembered for his match-winning hundreds (126* and 102*) in Lord’s and Headingley on that tour.

The Lord’s ton, which led to India’s first win at the iconic ground, also marked his three-figure hat-trick at the home of cricket, since 1979. Ahead of India’s high-profile series against England come July, the veteran stressed on the need to adjust to conditions and spared a thought for Ajinkya Rahane as he missed out on the limited-overs berth.

‘Great chance’

“India has got a great chance in England, there is no question about that. How quickly they adapt to English conditions is important. I am glad that they will be playing the One-Day Internationals first. There will be enough matches before they head to the Test matches. They will get used to it,” Vengsarkar told Sportstar on Tuesday.

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“We have world-class players who can adapt, and that will be the key in England,” he added.

In the current crop, apart from senior pro Murali Vijay, Rahane is the only batsman with a decent record in England.

‘Unfortunate’

Vengsarkar is likely to connect. India’s second win at Lord’s — that came in 2014 after 28 years, after that 1986 Test — had a Rahane hundred in the script. “I am really surprised [at Rahane’s exclusion]. It is a 50-over game and somebody has to stay around for a long time. Rahane was the right person to hold the middle-order. It is unfortunate,” he said.

Though Vengsarkar ushered in a Yo-Yo free era, he understands the level of fitness required in modern-day cricket. He believes Ambati Rayudu, Sanju Samson and Mohammed Shami — who failed to clear the endurance test for the England tour — should be handed a second chance. “Every cricketer needs to be fit at the international level. But I believe they all must get another opportunity to clear the test, in another 10 days or so. I am sure they will do something. This way, the cricketers can always get a chance to be a part of the team,” he reasoned.

Vengsarkar’s batting snatched England’s pride and David Gower’s captaincy on that tour; now it’s over to Virat Kohli.