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The ever improving Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane
India’s Ajinkya Rahane celebrates his century. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

India’s new man of resolve in all conditions, Ajinkya Rahane slammed his first ton in the Caribbean during the second Test of India’s tour of West Indies 2016. Although he came in to bat when Indian were in a strong position, there was a long way to go for making sure they ended up heads and shoulders above the hosts in a match expected to be hampered by weather conditions. At close on day 4, West Indies had already lost of their 4 wickets after batting for just 16 overs and were trailing by 256 more runs.

When you’re batting at number 5 in Test cricket, taking up the role of last specialist batsman, your best bet is to farm as much of strike possible when the lower order starts but Rahane showed immense faith in the batting abilities of Wriddhiman Saha, Amit Mishra and Umesh Yadav.

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It wasn’t until Yadav arrived at the crease that Rahane had to hog the strike on purpose. Although Rahane gave a lengthy brief to Yadav before he faced his first ball, Yadav was soon found slogging wildly at deliveries which were none of his business. Realising the potential risk, Rahane changed the gears and quickly brought up his 7th Test ton. For a batsman playing in the top 3 for most of his first-class career, Rahane has adapted his game seamlessly into the number 5 slot and seems to be replicating the success VVS Laxman had batting at 5 and 6 for India.

Rahane held the fort yet again, batting with conviction and responsibility after he got out to a rash shot in the first Test. He came into bat when the score was 277/3 but soon after the dismissals of Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin, he put up vital stands of 98, 33 and 42 with the lower order, thus helping India touch the 500 mark with an unbeaten century.

Also read – Stats: Instances of Indians completing Test centuries with a six

Rahane trusted his partners and let them express their freedom at the batting crease. Not only did he shield the lower order from the dangerous looking Roston Chase, but also pounced on each and every scoring opportunity, his knock consisting of 13 fours and 3 sixes. It was the first time since Rahul Dravid’s unbeaten 144 at Georgetown in 2002 that an Indian number 5 scored a century in West Indies.

Ajinkya Rahane has registered scores of 90+ on India’s last 8 consecutive tours and is the only Indian in the current squad to do so. His career may have seen many ups and downs, but his ability to stick around during the trickiest of situations is what makes him different from the rest. He has been in and out of the ODI squad but seems to have found his mojo in Test cricket.

Just 24 Tests into his career, Rahane has already taken up the responsibility of vice captaining the side under the reigns of Virat Kohli and already scored a hundred in England, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and now West Indies. He has also recorded scores of 96 and 98 in South Africa and Bangladesh respectively.

It is astonishing that Rahane has 7 centuries under his belt from just 24 Tests let alone the fact that 5 of them have come overseas and the two at home were in both the innings of the Kotla Test against South Africa. He is the perfect team man and likes to anchor the innings. He is a human calculator and a thinking cricketer. Rahane may not be counted amongst Kane Williamson, Joe Root, Steve Smith and Virat Kohli as the modern day great but he can well be India’s best Test batsman in the near future given how he has been going about things in the most artful format of the game.

Also read – 10 Cricketers who played another innings as musicians

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