Ajinkya Rahane’s mentor and coach Pravin Amre said he had butterflies in his stomach before the Boxing Day Test as the Indian stand-in skipper headed into the 2nd Test on the back of ordinary personal form and scrutiny over the run-out of Virat Kohli in the 1st Test against Australia in Adelaide.
Pravin Amre, speaking to Sports Today, said it was not easy to take over the responsibility of leading India after the horror show in Adelaide wherein the visitors were bundled out for their lowest Test score of 36.
India were written off after the thrashing in Adelaide and the absence of Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami made the chances of a comeback in Melbourne look improbable. However, Rahane answered his critics with his leadership and composure as he led Inidia to an emphatic 8-wicket win.
Ajinkya Rahane hit a match-winning hundred but was also tactically brilliant. With some smart field placements and out-of-the-box bowling changes, Rahane made life difficult for the Australian batsmen, who struggled to get going.
Rahane brought in R Ashwin as early as the first session on Day 1 after Australia won the toss and opted to bat. Ashwin repaid the faith his captain showed in him by removing Steve Smith for 0. India bundled out Australia for 195 and 200 despite losing pacer Umesh Yadav early in the 2nd innings.
“I wanted to be in his shoes coming into that 2nd Test. The series before New Zealand was there. He didn’t have a great run there. In Adelaide, in the first innings he was involved in the Virat Kohli run-out. In the second innings he was out for 0. There were butterflies in my stomach,” Amre said.
“It wasn’t an easy task. Getting leadership after that, we might have different leaders in different situations but the guy answerable will always be the captain. So he handled that responsibility greatly because he did his own study.
“I think he must have done a really good study about Australian batting. Because Australia are always vulnerable against off-spinners. I felt the first day in the Boxing Day Test was critical. He used Ashwin so well. Nobody expected that on the first day, the first hour an off-spinner would come. I think that is instinctive. He kept the fielders at the right place, that credit goes to him,” Amre said.
‘Australia will come hard at India in Sydney’
Meanwhile, Amre pointed out that the Test series is not yet over and India have to continue with the mindset they display in Melbourne. Amre expects Australia to come back hard but says India have nothing to lose and that would give them the freedom to go out and express themselves well.
“They are going to come very hard at us after losing the Boxing Day Test. We will be prepared for that. We have nothing to lose. We went there to play 4 Test matches. We know Australia is always a tough tour but what is important is how we play,” Amre said.
“The 2nd Test gave us the confidence we can play good cricket. If we produce good cricket, the result will be with us.
“As a cricketer, we have to keep it simple. Playing good cricket on that day and on that hour will help us. We didn’t plan to win, we took care of sessions, we won every hour of the game. That is what we have to do in Sydney also, for us, Melbourne is now history.”
With the series leveled at 1-1, the two teams will meet in the 3rd Test in Sydney from January 7.