Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar lavished praise on Ajinkya Rahane for ticking all boxes as captain in the ongoing second Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Rahane is deputizing in the absence of Virat Kohli, who is in India to attend the birth of his first child.
Ajinkya Rahane’s field placements and bowling changes were highly instrumental in India bundling out the Aussies for a meager 195 runs in the first innings. And when it was the visitors’ turn to bat, the 32-year-old forged solid partnerships in the middle-order to score 112 off 223 balls, which handed India a 131-run first innings lead.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Shoaib Akhtar called Ajinkya Rahane a 'cricket-savvy guy' and lauded his calm approach in resuscitating the Indian team after a nightmarish first Test in Adelaide.
“This is the character of a team under a captain like Ajinkya Rahane. Rahane, who is a Maharashtrian, is a sensible, very cricket-savvy guy. You can see his bowling changes, the way bowlers responded. Rahane was calm under pressure and did perfect maneuvering in field placements. Rahane has shown maturity,” Shoaib Akhtar said.
Ajinkya Rahane drew widespread accolades for introducing Ravichandran Ashwin as early as in the 11th over of the first innings, a move which paid enormous dividends in the form of scalps of Steve Smith and a well-set Matthew Wade. One also shouldn’t forget Rahane’s role in placing close-in fielders on the leg side, a trap which saw three Aussie batters fall into.
‘You have to praise Ajinkya Rahane for bringing India in the driver’s seat,’ says Akhtar
India are now the favourites to draw level the series. The visitors have Australia on the mat with a deficit of 5 runs and four wickets in hand at the time of publishing this piece.
Shoaib Akhtar credited Ajinkya Rahane for the turnaround in India’s fortunes, saying his character has rubbed off on the rest of the players.
“I am happy to see the character of teams. One man takes the onus of changing the scenario of the match. Team India have regrouped and smashed Australia. They have also shown the world that they have the power to regroup," Akhtar said.
“Teams build on the characters of captains, bowlers respond and batting line-up charges in...You have to praise Ajinkya Rahane for his knock of 112 runs and bringing India in the driver’s seat versus Australia,” he added.
India trail Australia 0-1 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after losing the day-night Test by 8 wickets, which also included their lowest-ever Test total of 36 all out.
Published 28 Dec 2020, 14:25 IST