People who had prophesied a 0-4 whitewash for India after the humiliating defeat in Adelaide are now speaking highly of Ajinkya Rahane, revealed former India captain Sunil Gavaskar. The tables turned after stand-in skipper Rahane led the visitors to a series-levelling 8-wicket win in Melbourne on Tuesday (December 29).
The task on Ajinkya Rahane’s hands was more exacting, especially with the unavailability of star batsman Virat Kohli and injured fast bowler Mohammad Shami. India were also without Umesh Yadav for the major part of the third innings after the speedster sustained a calf muscle injury midway through his fourth over.
But India defied all odds and rode on Ajinkya Rahane’s gritty hundred, astute field placements and bowling changes to win for the fourth time at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, their most at a single away venue.
Sunil Gavaskar, who is on commentary duty Down Under, admitted it was “heartening” to see some of the greats of the game praising Rahane’s leadership.
“You had to be around the Australian commentary boxes to understand the kind of admiration that was there for the way he [Ajinkya Rahane] led the team amongst some of the Australian legends who were at the commentary box.
“So that was such a heartening thing to see that he was being praised for his leadership by these guys, someone like Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Mike Hussey, Shane Warne, they had nothing but praise for Rahane’s captaincy,” Gavaskar, who scored 10,122 runs in 125 Tests, told India Today.
Legendary opener Gavaskar, however, made it clear that Ajinkya Rahane needs to make way for regular captain Virat Kohli once the latter returns from his paternity leave.
“Rahane is the stand-in captain and as a stand-in captain or as a stand-in batsman or a new-ball bowler or off-spinner, you try to do your best at that point of time but when the main guy is back again very fit, you make way for that guy,” Gavaskar stated.
‘This is not a team which will lie down and allow you to walk all over them,’ says Sunil Gavaskar
India were bruised and battered after the pink-ball Test, which also included their lowest-ever Test total of 36 all out. They have now risen from the ashes like a phoenix and have turned the heat on the Aussies.
Sunil Gavaskar also echoed similar sentiments, saying the hosts have many a hole to plug if they are to harbour any chance of staging a comeback in the remaining two Tests. Gavaskar further added that India need to fix their opening combination as well.
“Some of the former Australian cricketers were speaking about a 4-0 win, that India will be blown over etc etc. Now you know what it is. This is not a team which will lie down and allow you to walk all over them. So it augurs well for the Indian team.
“The Australians have their own problems, finding a good opening pair, they need to find somebody who can get wickets when the fourth and fifth bowler is required. Even India has its own problems, they also have to think about opening batting position and in the middle order but in bowling they have nothing to worry about,” Sunil Gavaskar elaborated.
Ajinkya Rahane became only the second Indian captain after MS Dhoni to win his first three Tests as captain. The 32-year-old would now look to further the record in the forthcoming matches in Sydney (Jan 7-11) and Brisbane (Jan 15-19).
Published 30 Dec 2020, 12:28 IST