Sydney: In the past 13 Tests, Ajinkya Rahane has established his reputation around the world as a free-flowing strokemaker. On Day Five of the Sydney Test, Rahane showcased the grit, compactness and mental toughness needed to elevate him into the next level of batting.
Ajinkya Rahane during the Melbourne Test last month
Twenty-two months earlier, during his Test debut, Rahane had arrived at the crease with only 28 runs to get to achieve a famous four-nil whitewash against the same opposition. Surrounded by close in fielders and the pressure of small run chase, Rahane attempted a hoick that landed into the hands of the deep midwicket fielder.
It was an uncharacteristic shot and many felt under immense pressure, Rahane has a tendency to buckle. When the stakes are high and the burden of the country falls solely on an individual, it takes enormous character to fight through the situation. Even the best in the business have failed but on Day Five, Rahane stood firm.
The plan after tea was for Virat Kohli to hold up one end and the other to push for an unlikely win. But within five overs of Rahane's arrival, the India captain and in-form player, Kohli departed. It was for Rahane now to take India through to the end.
Not an easy task
It was no simple task. The ball was bouncing, spinning and Australia's fielders were over him trying to disturb his concentration. He played each ball on merit, worked out the arithmetics, motivated his lower order batsmen and importantly never played a poor shot.
Over the past couple of seasons, Rahane would observe closely the ability of Kohli and MS Dhoni to absorb all the pressure and still perform admirably. On the final afternoon of the Test series, Rahane put all that learning in practice. Not only did he succeed but he showcased there is another dimension to his batting.
In the past 13 away Tests, he had thrived and succeeded in different types of conditions Test match cricket has to offer. Overall, he is the most complete batsman of the next generation.