By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, Dec 24 (IANS) India’s batting mainstay Ajinkya Rahane’s calm and composed demeanour shouldn’t be mistaken for him being weak and he will be as aggressive as Virat Kohli, now on paternity leave, as the Mumbai batsman steps in as a stand-in captain in the remainder of the ongoing four-Test series against Australia, says Sachin Tendulkar.
Rahane, 32, has captained India twice in Tests and has a 100 per cent win record, with one of those wins coming against Australia, in Dharamsala in 2017. He will now lead the team in the last three Tests against Australia, after Kohli left for India at the end of the first match to be with his wife who is expecting their first child. The second Test starts on Saturday in Melbourne.
“Ajinkya has led India earlier also, and his calmness doesn’t mean he is not aggressive. Each person has his way of showing aggression. Someone who doesn’t show aggression doesn’t mean he’s not aggressive. (Cheteshwar) Pujara, for example, is very calm and composed; his body language is into the game, focussed. But that doesn’t mean that Pujara is trying any less than anyone else,” Tendulkar told IANS in an exclusive interview.
Tendulkar, 47, pointed out that Rahane’s strategy as captain may be different from Kohli’s but he and his team would have a common goal, i.e. to win matches.
“Each person has his own way of reacting and responding to situations, but I can assure you everyone’s destination is one; they’ve different routes to get there — and that is how they can make India win. So, Ajinkya’s would be a different style, different strategies. That is up to the team management — how they plan, how the pitch plays, and what our batting and bowling line-ups would be,” he said.
“All those things come into play. They will do everything to try and win. Absence of seniors does affect the balance of a team, but that gives opportunities to someone else. Overall, it is about Team India and not about individuals. Individuals can get injured and be ruled out of the series, but Team India will always be there,” added Tendulkar.
India lost the first Test to Australia by eight wickets in Adelaide, after Kohli’s team capitulated for 36 runs in the second innings — India’s lowest ever in Test history — as no batsman could muster a double-digit score.
Rahane scored 42 in the first innings but failed to open his account in the second. Earlier, he had a poor Indian Premier League season, just before the Australia tour began, as he managed a solitary half-century in eight innings for Delhi Capitals.
Tendulkar, however, seems to have full faith in Rahane and hopes that he would absorb the pressure and fine-tune his technique to deliver in the Test series.
“He is an experienced player, has been around for a long time, travelled well, and scored runs abroad. It’s just a matter of spending time (at the crease), staying committed to what he wants to do. I feel he has that capability to soak in the pressure; he can,” said the batting maestro.
“The only thing I would like to see in his batting is a nice, solid front-foot defence, with a good stride forward. That applies to more or less all players; there are no exceptions. When you travel abroad and your front foot is forward and you are defending the ball well, then everything else falls in place. Forward defence is like a jigsaw puzzle; if you don’t sort it out at the start the rest will never follow. If the forward defence is not there, bowlers will always smell opportunity,” he explained.
Rahane, a batsman from the old school with excellent temperament, has tallied 4,245 runs in 66 Test matches, with the help of 11 centuries and 22 half-centuries. Most of those runs have come at No.5 (3,236), though he has batted from No.3 to No.7.