Rahane inspires coming of age
Besides his batting and the stability he provides to the Indian middle-order in the longest format, Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy too deserves a lot of praise for the way he marshalled his troops after a disastrous start in this Test series.
In fact, the body language and approach of the entire team had changed from the very first day of the second Test, which India won, courtesy his wonderful century and some superb bowling.
This has been the team’s approach right through the series, even when it lost one key player after another owing to injuries. But Rahane remained steady in all the three Tests after Adelaide and so did his teammates, as they continued to rally behind the stand-in captain.
Rahane hasn’t lost any of the Tests he has led India so far which does underline his abilities as a captain. “Look, I would like to say that it’s an honour first of all to lead my country. And I look good as a captain only because everyone in the team has contributed,” was Rahane’s modest reply when asked about his leadership at the virtual media conference after the three-wicket victory. “I don’t give importance to myself. For us, it was all about having the character on the field and showing that fighting spirit.”
So what exactly makes Rahane tick as a captain? “After being all out for 36 in the first Test and being down in the dumps, Ajinkya led from the front by scoring that outstanding century which turned out to be a real morale-booster for the team.
“That innings kind of picked the team up from the dumps. His confidence rubbed on to the young brigade of the team and they responded brilliantly thereafter,” said former India captain and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar.
It’s Rahane’s calmness and composure in the field that stood out once again, Vengsarkar stressed. “You also got to see his calmness on the field and how he handles bowlers, and the way he encourages the bowlers or reacts even when there are misfields. His attitude is exemplary.”
Coach Ravi Shastri too hailed Rahane’s calmness and composure on the field along with his gritty 112 at the MCG, all of which were pivotal in India turning it around in style post the Adelaide debacle.
“It was important to maintain the self-belief and Ajinkya did a great job by being calm, composed and taking everything in his stride. It’s not easy as a captain to go out with a bowling attack just three Test matches old (in Brisbane). It’s no joke, but then to marshal the resources and then to keep everyone going was outstanding on Ajinkya’s part.
“He’s not ruffled by anything. He led from the front in Melbourne, which set us back on track to challenge Australia and look for the win. We didn’t look back since then,” Shastri explained.
Rahane too is among those who don’t quite show emotions. But this indeed was one of those special occasions.
“Yes, I too was emotional. I still don’t know what happened and how to describe this victory,” he said.
⦾ Shubman Gill’s 91 at 21 years & 133 days makes him the third youngest visiting opening batsman in Australia after West Indian Adrian Barath (19 years & 228 days) and Pakistani Salman Butt (20 years & 87 days) to register a 90-plus score. Among Indians, KL Rahul was the previous youngest opener at 22 years & 265 days when he scored 110 at the SCG in 2014-15.
⦾ Cheteshwar Pujara’s fifty in 196 balls is the slowest of his Test career. He had taken 174 balls to reach 50 in the SCG Test.
⦾ Rishabh Pant became the first Indian wicketkeeper to score fifty-plus scores in the fourth innings of a Test match on three separate occasions. In fact, the top three scores by an Indian ’keeper in the 4th innings are by him — 114 at the Oval 2018, 97 at SCG in 2021, 89 n.o. at Gabba in 2021.
⦾ Pant’s 89 n.o. is now the second-highest winning score in the fourth innings by a Test wicketkeeper after the 149 n.o. by Adam Gilchrist against Pakistan at Hobart in 1999.
⦾ Pant reached his 1000th run in Test cricket on Tuesday. In doing so in his 16th Test and 27th innings, he is now the quickest to reach the landmark among Indian ’keeper. Incidentally, Pant is also the quickest to reach 50 dismissals by an Indian ’keeper, doing so in just 11 Tests and 22 innings.
⦾ This is the second time Ajinkya Rahane was the lone centurion for India in a Test series. He had made centuries in each innings (127 & 100 n.o.) in the four-match series against South Africa in 2015. His 112 at the MCG is the only century for India in the just-concluded series.
⦾ This is the first time ever that India have won a Test series outside the subcontinent without winning the toss in any of the Test wins/draws. l This is the fourth time that India have managed to win a (3 or 4) Test series after losing the first match. The previous instances are:
⦾ 2000-01 vs Australia - 2-1 (3-Test series, home)
⦾ 2015-16 vs Sri Lanka - 2-1 (3, away)
⦾ 2016-17 vs Australia - 2-1 (4, home)
⦾ The last time Australia lost a home series after winning the opening Test was in 1954-55 against England. Australia had won the 1st Test at Gabba by an innings & 154 runs, then lost the next three at SCG, MCG and Adelaide. The final Test at the SCG was drawn.
⦾ This was Australia’s first defeat in 32 years and 31 Test matches at the Gabba. Their last defeat was against the West Indies by 9 wickets on November 21, 1988.