Impressed by Ajinkya Rahane’s astounding consistency and versatility over the last few years, legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar has heaped praises on the 28-year old by referring him to as India’s ‘most complete batsman’ currently. Coming into bat with the scoreboard at 100/3, Rahane was involved in an impressive 365-run partnership with captain Virat Kohli to take the hosts to a commanding first-innings total in the third Test at Indore.
In a candid chat with NDTV, Gavaskar enthused, “Ajinkya Rahane is India's most complete batsman at this stage. Like Virat Kohli, he is never satisfied by what he does. I am sure Virat will acknowledge how important a role Rahane has played for India. When you have the confidence of your captain, you are motivated to do even better.”
However, the innings was not smooth sailing for the soft-spoken batsman. On a pitch which made short deliveries particularly hard to judge with its invariable bounce, Rahane withstood a cascade of bouncers from the relentless New Zealand seamers. He was even hit on the helmet by a short-pitched ball from Matt Henry but held on grimly to register a career best score of 188.
Beneath a benign demeanor that might not fully reveal the story, Rahane‘s temperament has been built on a seemingly impenetrable layer of grit. Having had to wait for his Test debut despite an imposing first-class record, the admirable right-hander took the baton from a generation of batsmen who had commanded the country’s attention with their exploits. The most laudable aspect of his batting would be the one which is used to determine a cricketer’s true worth – performances away from home.
Be it on a green top at Lord’s or a hard surface in Wellington or a sluggish pitch in Delhi, Rahane has conquered different conditions across the globe. Since his Test debut, only Kohli has scored more runs for India than him. However, his average of 50.83 (as of 9th October) is comfortably the best among all current Indian batsmen. The apparent insistence to contribute to the team’s cause helped him overcome an uneasy start to take the game away from New Zealand’s reach.
At the end of day press conference, he revealed, “I was struggling yesterday against the short ball and Virat told me to take my time. Today, I wanted to dominate after getting the hundred. This partnership will stay in memory for a long time. My approach was good. I struggled but it’s no shame to struggle. How you overcome it is important. Today I was really happy, they were bowling short balls as I knew they will give me runs.”
With still three full days to go in the match, the Kiwis have their task cut out after conceding a mammoth total. Though the pitch does not seem to hold any demons, they will be up against scoreboard pressure as well as a bowling attack that is in ominous form especially at home.
A confident Gavaskar declared, “Kohli and Rahane have batted New Zealand out of the park. It will be impossible for New Zealand to win this Test unless they can come up with a miracle. Of course, they can still save the game. It's still a good wicket to bat on.”