India's stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane was all class on Sunday as he brought up a gritty century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). In two-hundred deliveries, Rahane smashed 12 fours and remained not out on 104 at the end of day two.
Ajinkya Rahane stepped on to the pitch in the 23rd over of India's first innings. Before he could have settled, a solid-looking Cheteshwar Pujara departed in the very next over.
Certainly, the horrors of the 36-all-out in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval would have crossed the mind of the skipper.
However, Ajinkya Rahane stood his guard and wore down the Aussie quicks. He first stitched a partnership of 52 runs with Hanuma Vihari and then a 57-run one with Rishabh Pant.
The Mumbaikar then joined hands with Ravindra Jadeja for an unbeaten partnership of 104 runs.
Together the Indian lineup worked around Ajinkya Rahane from a perilous position of 63 for 3 to a sizeable 277 for 5 at the end of the day. India now leads Australia by a sizeable 82 runs.
Although he was dropped twice, the lion's share of Rahane's knock was flawless. He left almost everything outside the fifth stump and mostly attacked lose and full deliveries. His innings was peppered with stunning cover-drives and on-drives against the towering Aussie fast bowlers.
Spinner Nathan Lyon, who has dismissed Rahane the most times in his career, wasn't spared either. The 32-year-old was deft in his movement against Lyon and didn't allow him to settle.
The pitch had significant purchase for the spinner, but Rahane's nimble judgment kept him at bay.
This knock had personal importance for Ajinkya Rahane as well. The senior batsman's average has dipped in the last couple of years. He had a lot to prove considering the ever-burgeoning batting backups in India.
Ergo, when he carved a short and wide delivery by Pat Cummins to bring up his ton, his muted celebrations exuded contentment more than triumph. The skipper had truly led the team from the front.
It goes without saying that Twitterati erupted over Ajinkya Rahane's knock. Following are the best tweets lauding the man of the moment.