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Rahane's success as Test captain puts pressure on Kohli

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By Khurram Habib

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Ajinkya Rahane’s ability to lead a weak Indian team, with many second string or young players to a Test series victory over Australia, has put pressure on regular skipper Virat Kohli to prove himself as a captain all over again.

Kohli, who returned home to attend the birth of his first child after the first Test debacle in Adelaide, will lead India against England in the first two Tests next month, and unless he wins those matches, calls for Rahane to replace him at the helm will get louder.

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Rahane led India to wins in two of the last three Test matches in Australia post the debacle in Adelaide, where India were shot out for their lowest ever score of 36 under Kohli’s leadership. Rahane’s Test captaincy record is exceptional. He has won four of the five matches he has led India in. Three of those wins have come against the formidable Australia.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan on Wednesday tweeted that India would be better served by having Rahane as skipper and Kohli purely as batsman. He felt that Rahane is tactically a good captain.

“I think I would have really considered keeping @ajinkyarahane88 as captain for @BCCI !!! Allowing @imVkohli to be the batsman only would make India even more dangerous & Rahane has an incredible presence & tactical nous about him,” tweeted Vaughan.

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Rahane’s field placements have received accolades and so has been the calm manner in which he handled the team after the loss in Adelaide. Most importantly, he led from the front with a century in the second Test in Melbourne when the chips were down.

Former India captain and top batsman Dilip Vengsarkar pointed to Rahane’s excellent temperament.

“He is calm and composed. He scored a tremendous 100 in Melbourne when India had backs to the wall and that performance acted as a morale booster. Others also responded. Australia are a formidable team,” Vengsarkar told IANS on Wednesday.

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“His bowling changes, field placements were also impressive. The dismissals of batsmen were planned. He led well despite half of the team unavailable for selection at the Gabba,” Vengsarkar said. “Credit needs to be given to the bowlers too as they bowled to the plan.”

Vengsarkar, who was man of the series in the 1986 Test series in England that India won and has the unique feat of scoring three successive Test tons at Lord’s, however, declined to compare Rahane’s captaincy with Kohli’s.

Though Kohli led the team to a 2-1 series win over Australia in Australia in 2018-19, India’s first in history of Test cricket, there have been concerns over his captaincy with critics pointing out selection blunders that have cost India possible Test match wins in South Africa and England.

Rahane’s calm and composed demeanour and his ability to back players without showing aggression has been acknowledged with former players like Sachin Tendulkar praising his controlled aggression.

Rahane’s gesture of handing Nathan Lyon a jersey signed by the team on the Aussie off-spinner’s 100th Test at the Gabba on Tuesday and him asking the entire Afghanistan team to join the Indian team in the trophy photo-shoot after the newest member lost their Test debut in 2018 has been widely acknowledged and appreciated.

–IANS

kh/qma

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