India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane has been receiving accolades from fans and cricket pundits ever since India have thumped Australia under his leadership in Melbourne. He led the visitors to an eight-wicket victory in the Boxing Day Test, shrugging off the memories of Adelaide horror.
A brilliant turnaround by India in the ongoing series has impressed former Australian captain Ian Chappell. In his latest column on ESPN Cricinfo, Chappell heaped praises on Rahane’s captaincy and called him a man ‘born to lead cricket teams’.
“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,” Chappell wrote in his column.
“There were a lot of similarities between that 2017 match and the one at the MCG. Firstly, it was between the same two highly competitive rivals, then there was the valuable first-innings lower-order contribution from Ravindra Jadeja, and finally Rahane aggressively accumulating the required runs in a nervy pursuit of a moderate victory total,” Chappell added.
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Chappell recalled the Dharmshala Test in 2017 when Rahane took the leadership charge after Kohli injured his shoulder. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav made his debut in that game and excelled with a five-wicket haul.
“The moment that caught my attention in the Dharamsala match was the time Rahane called on debutant left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav when David Warner and Steve Smith were involved in a century partnership. ‘This is a brave move,’ I thought, and it turned out to be a very smart one. Yadav quickly claimed the wicket of Warner – expertly caught by Rahane at first slip – and this prompted a five-wicket slide,” Chappell wrote.
Chappell further explained how the stand-in skipper has been dealing with the on-field situations with a calm demeanour and has also earned the respect from his teammates.
“That’s part of Rahane’s success as a skipper: he’s brave and smart. However, there’s much more to his leadership than just those two important qualities. He is calm when things could easily get out of hand. He has earned the respect of his team-mates, one of the most important aspects of good captaincy. And he gets runs when they are needed, which adds to the respect his team has for him,” he added.
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The former Aussie captain believes that the series is yet to end but the tourists have lesser selection headaches than the hosts.
“This tantalising series is far from over. India still have concerns with yet another fast-bowling injury and an opening batsman in a quandary. However, despite coming off a disastrous collapse in Adelaide, along with the departure of their best batsman and the loss of two leading fast bowlers, India have fewer selection headaches than Australia. It’s helpful that they have a strong, calm leader and a vibrant spirit that has built up under the Kohli-Rahane-Ravi Shastri coalition. If India do go on to repeat their last tour’s success in Australia, the Mullagh medal won’t be the only gong Rahane receives,” Chappell concluded.
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