Captain Ajinkya Rahane at play, India rule
After leading his troops masterfully to bowl out Australia for 195 in the first innings, Ajinkya Rahane, India’s stand-in captain, proved to be the leader with the bat as well, dictating Day II’s proceedings of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne with a fine century.
Rahane remained unbeaten on 104 at stumps on Sunday as India gained a significant advantage in the second Test of the series. With Ravindra Jadeja (40 batting) complementing his skipper perfectly, India finished the day on 277/5, enjoying a lead of 82 runs.
Rahane had his share of luck when Steve Smith and Travis Head dropped him on 73 and 104, respectively, but his innings — his 12th Test century and second at the iconic venue — would go down as a memorable one as he braved difficult conditions as well as tricky situations.
Pat Cummins’s double blow, when he picked up overnight batsmen Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara, had India in a spot of bother at 64 for three in the morning session on Sunday.
ut Rahane’s calm approach, playing the ball on merit, helped him stitch back-to-back half-century stands with Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant that took India closer to Australia’s total.
Thereafter, the 104-run unbeaten Rahane-Jadeja stand helped India extend their first-innings lead.
“Jaddubhai’s (Jadeja) knock is equally valuable. He went in to bat when we were 173 for five, and it was an opportunity for the opposition to get back in the game. So, this partnership has been vital for us,” Shubman said during the virtual media conference after the day’s play.
Stitching partnerships is one aspect that the team had laid emphasis on before the start of this second Test, Shubman pointed out. “We had spoken before the game that partnerships will be very important in order to win.
“When we lost our first wicket quickly (on Saturday), Pujibhai (Pujara) and myself spoke on how far we can lengthen our partnership.
“We just hope that the current partnership can stretch to 150 or beyond,” the debutant said.
Some of the deliveries from spinners had sharp turn on both days. That does hint at greater assistance for spinners in the remaining days of the Test. That could make batting even more difficult in the fourth innings.
For a youngster like Shubman, who is playing his debut Test, one of the major lessons he learnt from Rahane’s knock was the need to stay patient. “This knock of his was all about patience.
“Besides, when you play against such a high-quality bowling attack, you tend to go into a shell and then you aren’t able to score runs. But the way Rahanebhai played, it was a magnificent knock to watch from outside.
“He just showed how to see off those tough periods as well as making sure to put the loose balls away,” Shubman said.
- Shubman Gill’s 45 is now the third-highest debut innings score by an Indian in Australia after Mayank Agarwal (76, MCG) in 2018 and Dattu Phadkar (51, SCG) in 1947.
- Tim Paine’s 3rd catch of the Indian innings (Rishabh Pant) was the 150th (143ct+7st) dismissal of his Test career in his 33rd match. He is now the joint quickest with South Africa’s Quinton de Kock to reach 150 dismissals.
- Rahane became the fourth visiting Asian captain to register a hundred at the MCG. The others are Hanif Mohammed (104) in 1964, Sachin Tendulkar (116 ) in 1999 & Md Yousuf (111) in 2004.