Melbourne, Dec 27 : India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane became only the fifth India skipper to score a Test hundred in Australia with his unbeaten 104-run masterpiece in the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.
Rahane, who walked in with India at 61/2, soon saw the departure of India’s reliable No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara at the total of 64. He was left with youngsters like Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja to count on for a rescue act. He did that with aplomb adding 52, 57 and an unbeaten 104 for the next three wickets.
“The way he was patient about this knock,” said opener Shubman Gill when asked about what he learned from the senior batsman.
Gill said that Rahane avoided going into the shell for the entire innings and took on the attack when he needed to.
The 32-year-old, who is standing in for regular skipper Virat Kohli who returned to India after the first Test to attend the birth of his child, however buckled down to play an innings of grit and determination against an Aussie pace bowling attack that was bowling a very tight line and length.
“This knock was all about patience and he was so patient. More importantly when you are playing such a high quality bowling attack, sometimes you go into that shell and you are not able to score runs. But the way Ajinkya bhai played, it was such a magnificent knock to watch from outside. How to see off those tough periods. The loose balls that he was getting, he was making sure that he put all of them away.”
Rahane took 17 deliveries to get off the mark and got his first four off an edge. By the time he had faced 50 deliveries, the India skipper had made only 13. His partner Hanuma Vihari was just a tad quicker before he fell for 21. The two had batted in a circumspect manner to wear the Aussie bowlers out and added 52 important runs.
India though, at 116/4, were still not out of trouble.
With the arrival of Pant after Vihari’s departure, Rahane could be assured of an increase in run rate. Pant didn’t disappoint and started playing his strokes. The two added 57 for the fifth before Pant departed for 29, playing a rash stroke.
But then Jadeja and Rahane did not give anything away. Jadeja, who replaced Kohli, was patient as well and scored only one four in his 104-ball unbeaten knock of 40.
Rahane, who scored his second ton at the MCG after his first came in the 2014 Boxing Day Test, though did survive a couple of chances when he was dropped by Steve Smith in the slips at 73 and then at 104 by Travis Head on the last ball of the day.
Before Rahane, Mohammed Azharuddin (in Adelaide, 1992), Sachin Tendulkar (in Melbourne, 1999), Sourav Ganguly (in Brisbane, 2003), Virat Kohli (two in Adelaide in 2014; one in Sydney in 2015 and one in Perth in 2018) are the other India skippers to score Test hundreds in Australia.