India head coach Ravi Shastri heaped praise on Ajinkya Rahane after the stand-in skipper led by example in the second Test against Australia to help India level the series at 1-1. India beat the hosts by 8 wickets inside four days as Rahane became the second Indian captain after MS Dhoni to win his first three Tests as captain.
In the post-match press conference, Ravi Shastri spoke about Ajinkya Rahane’s leadership skills. The coach also shed light on Rahane's stark personality contrast with that of regular captain Virat Kohli, who flew back to India after the first Test in Adelaide to attend the birth of his first child.
“Ajinkya Rahane is a shrew leader, has a good understanding of the game. He was a calming influence for the debutants and the bowlers. Both Kohli and Rahane are good readers of the game. Kohli is passionate and in your face. Ajinkya is prepared to sit back in a calm and composed manner. Deep inside, he knows what he wants,” Shastri explained.
Ajinkya Rahane had previously led India to victories against Australia in 2017 and versus Afghanistan the following year. But people still doubted the 32-year-old’s ability to help India bounce back after the morale-sapping loss in Adelaide, coupled with the absence of Kohli and injured fast bowler Mohammad Shami.
But Ajinkya Rahane impressed analysts and fans from Day 1 with his field placements and bowling changes. Wickets borne out of the leg-side traps, introducing Ravichandran Ashwin as early as in the 11th over of the first innings, giving the ball to debutant Mohammad Siraj after Tea when everyone expected Jasprit Bumrah to steam in, are memories that will remain forever etched in Indian cricket history.
‘Ajinkya Rahane’s innings was the turning point,’ says Shastri
Ravi Shastri opined it was Ajinkya Rahane’s first innings century that changed the complexion of the match and potentially the series. Coming into bat with India on 64 for 3, the middle-order mainstay forged crucial partnerships en route to a steely 223-ball 112, which helped the visitors take a crucial 131-run lead.
“Ajinkya Rahane’s innings was the turning point. The discipline on such a big stage. Captain of the team, bat at No. 4, on probably the toughest day to bat as it was overcast. He batted for six hours...unbelievable concentration,” Shastri exclaimed.
India have now won four (1977, 1981, 2018, 2020) Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – their highest at a single away venue. The visitors wouldn’t complain if the recent COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales shifts the third Test (Jan 7-11) from the Sydney Cricket Ground to the MCG.
Published 29 Dec 2020, 15:23 IST