There are two players in the present Indian Test team who are spoken of a lot in detail for contrasting reasons. Virat Kohli is someone who is spoken about for his incredible consistency and hunger to score and Rohit Sharma is the other one, who is often criticised to not have not completely fulfilled his immense potential.
Sandwiched in between them is Ajinkya Rahane, a quiet unassuming man, but someone who always packs a punch with the bat in hand.
While the world raved about Kohli and his stupendous double hundred, Rahane went about his business in the only manner he knows- sedate. As is the case with any of his innings, it was a combination of fast running between the wickets and sumptuous hits to the fence, that delighted the large crowd which turned out for a second straight day at the Holkar Stadium in Indore.
What began as a nervy start from Rahane eventually turned to be career-best effort of 188 runs as he and Kohli put on a massive stand of 365 runs which broke the back of the New Zealand bowlers.
The key features of any Rahane innings are the manner in which he paces it. There are no over-the-top rash shots, he plays according to the merit of the ball and more importantly, keeps the target of the team in mind whenever he is playing. It is as if he knows how and when to up the ante and when to maintain composure.
On Saturday, Rahane didn’t seem his usual self as he found it difficult to get his timing, he looked shaky. And yet, he scraped his way to a 71 not out, giving his captain the support he needed.
On Sunday morning, he was on the side of the head early on, but that further steeled him. One saw him open out further,especially against the spinners as he used his feet to good effect. Even then, there was hardly any slogging from him and eventually he got to his eighth Test ton.
After reaching that landmark, he carried on, going past his previous highest score of 147 and towards the end of his inning, he really began to go after the leather which eventually led to his wicket for a superb 188.
If you look at India’s batting lineup- The top seven has an equal mix of players with flair and players who provide calm. Number 2, Number 4 and Number 6 are filled by Shikhar Dhawan, Kohli and Rohit while Number 1,3, 5 and 7 is filled by Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha.
The more we see this Indian team play in the Test format, the more we can actually get the feeling that a very competent line-up, which is capable of challenging the best in the world.
MS Dhoni admitted recently that India finally seems to have got a good crop of fast bowlers, who can be relied upon and with R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja complimenting one another very well, the future does look bright.
In the batting, Rahane, along with Kohli and Vijay and Pujara provide the team a great amount of solidity and all-in-all, the Indian Test team at least is performing like a well-oiled machine.