Indis vs England, Third Test: Rahane finally delivers
It has been a tough year for Rahane. He was dropped for the first Test match against South Africa in favor of Rohit Sharma. When finally he got a look in, he responded with a brilliant counter-attacking 48 runs in the second innings of the Third Test at Johannesburg.
After that Test, he failed yet again against Afghanistan. He did not have much to show for his efforts in the first two Tests against England. On most of the occasions, he needlessly got out after being set. The lack of runs from overseas specialist was hurting India's chances. In fact, before this Test, he had not crossed a fifty-plus score since the century against Sri Lanka in 2017.
After India had lost the first two Test matches, the team needed their Test specialists to step up. While Murali Vijay was shown the door, Pujara found yet another way of getting out after looking solid in his brief stay at the crease. He was dismissed at the stroke of lunch. At 82/3, it looked as if India would squander the advantage of a good opening stand.
The post-lunch session was going to define India's fate in the innings. It was at this time when Rahane joined hands with Kohli and started the repair work. Both of them started cautiously and weathered some fine bowling by the English pacers. Rahane had a few nervous moments. He was a bit streaky at the start of his innings.
Slowly he started getting into his groove. The peculiar thing about his innings yesterday was that he refrained himself from playing drives. He didn't play the shot for the entire post-lunch session to ensure that the bowlers had to bowl at him more often and as such, the slips fielders remain dysfunctional.
Before the Test match, Ravi Shastri had asked the batsmen to be ready to play ugly cricket to be successful. Rahane took the advice seriously and did the same. Once he had a measure of the bowlers and the conditions, everything started to fall in place for him. Most of his boundaries were scored in the point region. It never looked as if he was out of form. He even outscored Kohli.
Together with the skipper, he put on a 159 runs stand. It took a special effort from Cook in the first slip to dismiss him. Before getting out for 81, he had taken India to a position from where they can achieve a first innings total of around 400.
Although he didn't manage a century, the innings would give a lot of confidence to him. The series is far from finished and he should look on to score a good amount of runs in the series.