As India clinched the Border Gavaskar series with a remarkable win which would be embedded in every cricketing fans heart’s forever, let us reflect back at how Ajinkya Rahane’s smart captaincy made things unfold.
After a morale shattering defeat against the mighty Australian’s at the Adelaide Oval, Team India regular captain Virat Kohli left for a pre announced paternity leave. The deputy captain Ajinkya Rahane was handed over the captaincy and carry forward the team for the rest of the test series. It required a mammoth effort by the team management to uplift the morale of the team. With courage, strong character, resolve and team spirit, India badly needed to out-think Australia on the field to mount a fight back. Sharp tactical moves became the need of the hour.
His tactical move – promoting Rishabh Pant in the batting order in the second innings in Sydney, opened the possibility of an improbable Indian victory-push on the fifth day. The southpaw was badly hit on the left elbow by a Pat Cummins bouncer while batting in the first innings to such an extent that he couldn’t keep wickets. He was given painkillers when he batted in the second innings. “It was a masterstroke to put him up there” former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said on air.
Australia batting first in the second Test in Melbourne, Matthew Wade was settling in and Marnus Labuschagne had been their in-form batsman. Rahane introduced Ashwin in the 11th over. Rahane’s this decision turned out to be a tactical masterstroke. Ashwin dismissed Wade with the ball doing dip and turn, which was followed by Steve Smith’s scalp. His proactive captaincy inculcated the initiative for the visitors in the second test.
Huddle with a difference was clearly visible during the second test. After captain Rahane’s short speech, an animated Ashwin was seen addressing team India. This was a very rare sight. Indian team huddles under Kohli are always a one-dimensional, where mostly the skipper is seen to be the main speaker. Rahane gave longish spells to his fast bowlers even at times when they were seen to struggle which generally is not the case with Virat Kohli’s captaincy.
In the final test at Brisbane, most of the regular players such as Bumrah, Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jadega, Ishant Sharma etc were unavailable due to their respective injuries. But the way Rahane has carried this young team forward is truly remarkable. In the final day of the test match, almost everyone thought that they would be happy to retain the Border Gavaskar trophy with a draw, as chasing 328 in 5th day of a test match that too in Brisbane where Australia had not lost a match since last 32 years was very daunting, but the tactics to promote Rishabh Pant higher above the batting order so that he could find a possible winning option for the team clicked. His batting heroics would be remembered for years to come.
We wish that this young team India carry the same momentum and show amazing results in days to come.