London/Calcutta: Ajinkya Rahane did on Thursday what even Sachin Tendulkar could not — a sparkling century at Lord’s. Scoring only the second Test hundred of his career, the 26-year-old helped India fight back after tea on the first day of the second Test against England.
India were struggling at 140 for the loss of six at tea, with Rahane (batting on 26) and Stuart Binny (batting on 6) at the crease. Later Rahane (103) along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (36) brought India back in contention.
The fact that Rahane got his century on a pitch which offered a lot of assistance to the pacers made it even more special. And the right-hander sounded deservedly pleased with his efforts.
“Every international hundred is special, but one will always remember a century at Lord’s. So it is very special to me,” he said.
The greentop at Lord’s has been the talking point of the day, but Rahane maintained that he was not really overtly concerned with it.
Asked what was his first impression of the pitch in the morning, he said: “I did not really look at it in the morning. But yes, it was doing a bit. The credit goes to the top order. Murali (Vijay), (Cheteshwar) Pujara, Virat (Kohli) and Shikhar (Dhawan) all played through a crucial phase.
“Watching them bat, I gained confidence,” he added.
“I was thinking ‘play as close as possible’. After 25/35 runs, I started to settle down and take my chances. It was very challenging as the wicket was completely different from the one at Trent Bridge. Batting-wise, we did well here at Lord’s.
“Till the end on Thursday, the ball was doing something. It was great to get the century on this pitch. I just wanted to be myself and play my game.”
Rahane was all praise for Bhuvneshwar, with whom he had a fruitful partnership. Their rearguard action — a 90-run eighth-wicket partnership — steadied India’s innings.
“I had a good partnership with Bhuvneshwar. From the non-striker’s end I was learning from him. I asked Bhuvi if I could take a single and he said he is comfortable. He is such a confident guy now and I completely trust him,” Rahane added.
“We are in a great position now (290/9). This wicket will suit our bowlers as well. If Ishant (Sharma) and (Mohammed) Shami (the overnight batsmen) can add around 25-30 runs on Friday morning then we will have an advantage. It is going to be difficult for the England batsmen as well,” he said.
Rahane said he is getting the hang of batting with tailenders. “I had been studying videos of Michael Hussey, who used to bat a lot with tail-enders. Have even learnt a lot from Virat, who in Australia, batted with the tail. Also Dhonibhai has batted a lot with the tail. I am learning from all of them.”