Two years, 29 innings and 17 Tests. That’s how long it took for Ajinkya Rahane to score a Test hundred. His 102 in the second innings – Rahane’s 10th Test hundred – of the first Test match between India and the West Indies at North Sound was the highest score of the match and was instrumental in India securing a thumping 318-run victory.
The classy Indian middle-order batsman had been struggling for runs for a while now. And questions had been raised on his place in the side. Especially with Rohit Sharma being in great form in limited overs cricket, there were talks that Rahane should be let go if he fails to perform again. The Test series against the West Indies was hence crucial for the batsman.
Thankfully, scores of 81 and 102 in both the innings showed why Rahane is such a vital part of this team, especially overseas. That 81 in the first innings came after India had been reduced to 25-3 on batting first. The pitch was assisting the West Indian pace battery and ball was bouncing and moving around. But Rahane dug in and calmly weathered the storm – stitching vital partnerships with KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari to bail India out of trouble.
His hundred in the second innings was equally special – it came when India needed to set a target and the pitch was slowing down. Rahane formed vital partnerships with captain Virat Kohli and Vihari and eventually took the game completely away from the home side.
He was deservedly adjudged with the Man of the Match and was expectedly satisfied and relieved with his fantastic effort.
“Very satisfied with the effort. For me, the first innings was very crucial. Team’s situation too was not very good. There was a lot of talk about me not getting big runs, not converting 50s into 100s. However, when I walked out to bat in the first innings, my initial intention was to put the team back on track and then look at personal milestones,” Rahane said in a TV interview shared by the BCCI on social media.
Rahane has worked hard in this phase to get back in form. He practiced with the Duke Ball which helped him and also played county cricket in England this year to get back in shape as he was away from international cricket.
Rahane is still one of those rare batsmen whose away record is better than his home one – he averages a solid 46.01 away from home and 34.54 in home conditions. The performance against the West Indies would hold him good stead for the coming months where India play Tests at home against South Africa and Bangladesh. Rahane could very well be the key man to India’s chances on the Test series in New Zealand next year. Hence, his coming into form augurs well for Indian cricket.
Another thing Rahane brings with him is class- he is an aesthetically pleasing batsman to watch. Here is hoping that Ajinkya Rahane continues his good form in the coming seasons and keeps entertaining the crows with his silken and exquisite drives.