Cricket greats Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting hailed Ajinkya Rahane for his gritty century on the second day of the Boxing Day Test, calling it a worthy captain’s knock.
Rahane, who was praised for his captaincy acumen in Australia’s 195 all out on the first day on Saturday, remained not out on 104 to put India in the driver’s seat at 277/5 with a lead of 82. Taking over the reins of the team after Virat Kohli went on paternity leave, he helped India recover from the low of being dismissed for 36/9 in the last Test.
Gavaskar said that the Mumbai batsmen played a fabulous knock on a difficult pitch to let his team take the control of the Test.
“This was a typical Test match century, a typical captain’s innings showing how to play on a pitch that was not easy to bat on. This is the kind of pitch where no batsman can feel that he is well set, something or the other is happening, there is a little bit of carry, the odd ball has kept low, there has been turn for Nathan Lyon,” Gavaskar said while analysing the day’s play for broadcasters Sony.
The batting great, on whom the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is named, praised the stand-in captain for how rebuilt India’s innings at a crucial stage.
“Under the circumstances when he came in to bat, Cheteshwar Pujara’s wicket fell… there were two new batsmen on crease, Rahane and Hanuma Vihari, so he had to do a repair job and he did that very, very well in the company of Vihari and Pant,” Gavaskar added.
Former Australia captain Ponting said that Rahane did a great job of banishing the Adelaide debacle with a captain’s knock.
“I think he’s done a great job to pick up the pieces from Adelaide with this team, lead really well in the field yesterday and you can see he’s playing like a captain now as well. He wants to play that captain’s knock; he wants to get a hundred in Virat’s (Kohli) absence and do the best thing he can to try and drag his country and his team back into this series,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
He was dropped by Steve Smith at second slip when on 73 and then by Travis Head from the final ball of the day – all off Mitchell Starc’s bowling. Those reprieves aside, the right-hander was judicious with his stroke play on a wicket that has assisted spin and seam bowling. And while he struck 12 boundaries, it was Rahane’s defence that stood out for Ponting.
“He’s almost played a (Cheteshwar) Pujara-like innings. No thrills, he’s hit very few boundaries but he’s just continually backing his defence and trying to wear the Australian bowlers down,” Ponting said.
“I think the Australians haven’t made him cover drive enough. I think they’ve been a little bit short and they’ve plugged that cover region. That nick that we saw that went between Paine and Smith, I think that could have been covered with another slip in place and leave the cover area open.”
Gavaskar also praised Pant for his quickfire 29 off 40 but said he gave his wicket away too soon.
“Pant’s batting took the momentum away from the Australian bowlers. At that stage, the scoring rate was just about 2.5 or thereabouts but Pant took away the game and his impatience cost him his wicket otherwise he could be batting on 80-90.
“But Rahane’s innings was fabulous, an innings which has given India an opportunity to take a big lead and have control of the match,” he said.
With PTI inputs