Former England fast bowler-turned-commentator Isa Guha heaped praise on stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane for the way he led Team India to victory in the Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne last week.
Rahane took charge from Virat Kohli, who returned home after the 1st Test to be with his pregnant wife Anushka Sharma, and led by example as he scored a match-winning hundred in India’s first innings, made crucial bowling changes and his field placements were spot-on throughout the match which helped India eventually beat Australia by 8 wickets and level the series 1-1.
“If there was anyone who would calm the dressing room and make sure India didn’t panic after the devastation at Adelaide, it was going to be Ajinkya Rahane. With Virat Kohli going home and India losing Mohammed Shami, India still came together incredibly well.
“Ajinkya Rahane has a quiet air of confidence about him. He has been successful many times in the past but he hasn’t performed as well as we would have liked in the last few years. To be able to lead in the way he did, particularly with his performance it was incredibly measured. It wasn’t like his previous century at the G when he scored with a higher strike rate. It was way more disciplined, he left balls outside the off-stump. He gave himself time and eventually when the ball was there to be hit he hit it.
“There were some difficult moments, some of the shots we saw were incredibly classy and it embodies the man. Virat Kohli leads in his way, Rahane leads in his own way through his character which is more quiet and reserved. He was delegating for the rest of the team, I got the vibe that it was a galvanised group because Virat Kohli wasn’t there and they knew they needed to put out something special to be able to beat Australia and you can only do that as a team,” Isa Guha said on Sports Today.
“TWO INCREDIBLE DEBUTS”
Guha, who played 8 Tests and 83 ODIs for England between 2001 and 2011, also praised debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammad Siraj for the way they performed in the second Test.
“They were being led by Ajinkya Rahane but also I noticed Ashwin become a lot more vocal and Jasprit Bumrah as a leader of the bowling attack to be able to help Mohammad Siraj through his debut, who ends up bowling perfectly for that wicket. To be able to create pressure and continue to dominate in terms of the bowling attack in Australia is fantastic.
“Shubman Gill at the top of the order as well. It wasn’t just him making his debut on Boxing Day, it was the moments and the times he was out in the middle. Playing in his 1st Test match he was up against Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood with the new ball and trying to survive till the end of the day. For him to play with that class and also showing as if nothing was fazing him was a tremendous moment for him. Two incredible debuts but I thought in general, the team came together incredibly well,” Guha added.