If there was ever a promotional campaign for 'When the things get tough, the tough gets going', Ajinkya Rahane would be an automatic choice to feature in it. So far he has scored five Test hundreds and all of them have come in trying circumstances. Either it's been the challenging pitch or the collapse that brought him to the middle.
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India batsman Rohit Sharma walks back after being clean bowled by SA paceman Morne Morkel on the third day of the fourth and final Test at Kotla in New Delhi on Saturday. Pic/PTI
The fact that he's scored centuries in England, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka and now, in India shows that he's not only got the technique to succeed in varied conditions but also the temperament to counter alien conditions. Also, the fact that he has scored centuries batting as high as No 3 and as low as No 6 shows that he's got different gears in his batting.
The most striking feature of Rahane's batting is that he's found a way to play the same way irrespective of the match situation and personal form. He comes out with a positive frame of mind and doesn't mind playing his shots from the beginning. As much as the attacking batting is about the shots you play, it's equally about your mindset, and Rahane's mindset is exceptional. He is not too far from mastering the art of staying in a bubble.
While one Mumbai batsman is shining brightly, the other is guilty of flittering away opportunities in Tests. Rohit Sharma's shot in the first innings prompted Kapil Dev to say that his time was up, for no matter how long the rope is, it must come to an end.
Time to drop Rohit
For Kapil and now, for me too, Rohit shouldn't be picked for Test matches for the time being. He's not only guilty of throwing away numerous chances but also his wicket. The shot in the first innings of this Test match was a classic example. He was given a reprieve on the previous ball when Amla grassed a sitter but that didn't stop Rohit from playing a high-risk-low-percentage shot. The Indian team has tried its best to ensure that Rohit succeeds.
He's been given opportunities at various numbers but somehow he hasn't managed to grab them properly. Now, it's reached that stage where accommodating him might not be possible anymore. South Africa landed in India as the No 1 Test side in the world but hasn't played like one thus far.
Even a slight hint of spin has been enough to trigger a collapse. While victory is highly unlikely in this Test, this is South Africa's last opportunity to salvage some pride. Their meek surrender hasn't done justice to their ability as a team. Do they have something left in the tank?