Ajinkya Rahane is born to lead teams: Ian Chappell
Former Australian captain Ian Chappell lavished praise on the leadership skills of India's stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane. In his recent column for ESPNcricinfo, Chappell stated that Rahane is "born to lead cricket teams". The former also compared his performance in the Boxing Day Test to that of the 2017 Dharamsala Test, wherein he led India to victory in a similar fashion. Here is more.
Rahane was at the helm in the Boxing Day Test as India came back from a humiliating defeat (Adelaide). His blistering ton (112) set the foundation of India's victory, for which he was adjudged the Player of the Match. It was his 12th century in Test cricket. He received adulation for clinching a victory without the likes of Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Mohammed Shami.
Chappell opened up on Rahane's astute captaincy. "It was no surprise that Ajinkya Rahane captained India flawlessly at the MCG; anyone who saw him in charge in Dharamsala in 2017 would have recognised a man born to lead cricket teams. There were a lot of similarities between that 2017 match and the one at the MCG," wrote Chappell.
Chappell highlighted how Rahane inspired India's victory in 2017, in the absence of injured Kohli. The four-match Test series was leveled at 1-1 with the final game being played in Dharamsala. Rahane handed Kuldeep Yadav his debut Test cap, a selection that proved fruitful. The leg-spinner took four wickets in the first innings as India won by eight wickets.
During the Dharamsala Test, Rahane introduced Kuldeep at a crucial juncture when Steve Smith and David Warner were brewing a partnership (134). "Yadav quickly claimed the wicket of Warner - expertly caught by Rahane at first slip - and this prompted a five-wicket slide. That's part of Rahane's success as a skipper: he's brave and smart," added Chappell.
At the MCG, this time around, Rahane himself took the charge of India's victory with a historic ton. Mentioning the same, Chappell stated, "Despite those valuable performances, the one that turned the match firmly in India's favour was the Johnny Mullagh medal-winning contribution from Rahane. The captain's century came at a time when India could easily have faded to a two-nil deficit."
After his match-winning performance, Rahane entered the elite Melbourne Cricket Ground honors board. This was the second time he etched his name on the MCG honors board. Notably, Rahane became only the second Indian to score two Test tons at MCG, equaling Vinoo Mankad's feat.
Now, India have a terrific opportunity to gain the wood by winning the upcoming Test at the SCG, starting January 7. Rahane will continue to lead the side, which has already lost two marquee pacers, including Shami and Umesh Yadav, due to injury. However, Team India will enjoy the services of senior opener Rohit Sharma as he recently joined the squad.