India v South Africa, 4th Test, Delhi, 2nd day December 4, 2015

Rahane revels after turning full circle

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'It's a very special hundred for me' - Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane, the only centurion so far in what has been a tough series for the batsmen, had to fight memories of his last Test in Delhi - his debut when he played two nervous shots to get out for 7 and 1. He was subsequently dropped for India's next two Tests. Since then he travelled the world for 17 Tests without a single absolute failure of a series.

Just when it looked this series - ironically at home - might be his first big failure in long-form cricket, Rahane came up with a century to rescue India from 139 for 6.

"It is a very special hundred for me because I made my debut in Delhi against Australia," Rahane said. "So I had a few things in my mind. Those memories against Australia. I was pretty determined to bat well as I knew that I was batting really well in the series. But it was important to spend time in the middle and later on look for a big innings. So really happy for the hundred but especially for the partnerships, which I got with [R] Ashwin, Virat [Kohli] and [Ravindra] Jadeja. That took us to 330."

Discounting the one day's play that was possible in Bangalore, this pitch provided the most even contest between bat and ball, which made Rahane's contribution extra special because a below-par total could have given South Africa a whiff at a consolation win. However, it wasn't that easy a surface.

"Shot making was not easy but once you are set, you decide that you are not going to get out," Rahane said. "It was difficult for bowlers to get batsmen out. Saw that our bowlers bowled good discipline and patience. For bowlers, it is important to show patience and bowl in right areas but as a batsman, I feel spending time in the middle, taking my time, playing normal cricket, rather than play attacking shots. Not easy for shot making, not difficult as well."

Rahane said he gave himself more time in the middle before venturing out to play his shots. "First two Test matches, I was looking to play shots initially and that's why I got out," he said. "I knew I was batting well in the series. Spending time, during a net session. Talking to Sanjay Bangar and Ravi bhai [Shastri], they said you have just got to take your time initially, play one ball at a time, if you are 25 to 30 your instincts will take over. I mean when I was batting I just wanted to stay blank, just play one ball at a time. Build a partnership with the batsman [at the other end]. I feel really special that I batted with Ashwin and got my hundred."

Ashwin and Jadeja have been key to India's success in the series, and not just with the ball. India's lower order has been a source of major frustration for South Africa. In the first innings in Nagpur, India last four wickets added 90 runs; and in the second, the last three gave India 45 runs. "That's a good sign, when you know your lower order is batting really well," Rahane said. "If guys at 8, 9, 10, 11 can contribute then opposition's morale goes down. Batting with Ashwin was really important. Communication was just play normal cricket. Ashwin can bat as he has got two hundreds. Important to build a partnership."

This is not the first time Rahane has stitched together important runs with the tail. India's last Test win outside Asia, at Lord's, was built around a similar hundred in testing conditions. "When we were 139 for 6, I was recollecting those memories as even at Lord's we were 142 for 7 [sic, 145 for 7]," Rahane said. "Same situation. I was just thinking to just communicate with other batsmen and back my instincts.

"When Ashwin came in, I just told him that if the ball is there to be hit, I will go after and back my instincts. I think the response from him was crucial. He was really positive from his end. He said you can bat whatever you like and however you like. Playing here was really special and those memories from Lord's innings came handy here."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ganeshad on December 5, 2015, 2:53 GMT

    @Siddharthxoom, its not fair to criticize someone like Rahul who has played just 3-4 matches. Rahul should be given equal chances as Dhawan and Rohith. They got a long rope despite being inconsistent and out of form. Dhawan and Rohith are failures in test cricket even after being given so many chances. In fact it is Dhawan and Rohith who should go back domestic cricket and play few matches to get their form back in test matches. At the same time, we should try other good performers in domestic cricket.

  •   Jitendra Bhonsle on December 5, 2015, 1:18 GMT

    Looking at rahanes performance and attitude, i always wonder why dhoni never gave him a chance in the first 2 or 3 yrs of his career. If dhoni had recognised talent (like ganguly always did), rahane would by now have contributed so much more to the team

  • sureshsrkmv on December 5, 2015, 1:16 GMT

    Guy on following ranji I am dam sure we have enough talent in domestic circuit to open the batting and for an impact lower order batsman out of form players should be dropped and asked to play in domestic to regain their form meanwhile young talent should be included

  •   Jitendra Bhonsle on December 5, 2015, 1:13 GMT

    Even more than his consistent performance against quality attacks, i admire rahanes attitude and approach to the game. He remains humble, has an excellent work ethic and is a complete team player. A welcome change from certain players who score on flat pitches and then strut around with a swagger as if they are world beaters.

  • Nampally on December 4, 2015, 22:34 GMT

    What a magnificent fight back by India from 139 for 6 to 334. I must confess without the dropped catches by SA this would not have been possible. While Rohit failed to exploit a dropped catch off him, Rahane & Ashwin made SA pay heavy price for their dropped catches. Sadly Amla held 2 but dropped 3 catches! Full credit to Kohli, Jaeja & Ashwin in helping Rahane pull India out of fire to safety. What gutsy batting from Rahane. This was not all because Ashwin & Jadeja demolished 7 of SA batsmen between them to skittle SA for 121 on a batting friendly wicket! Don't blame the pitch again, SA. It was the same pitch where India compiled 334. Remember Catches do win matches - Springboks so great in fielding & Catching have forgotten their main strength from 1950's era.

  • glen1 on December 4, 2015, 22:11 GMT

    What's up with all these pitches that are made for bowlers to dominate? Be it England or India, it is the bowlers who bat well too! The domestic team tail seems to be super strong when compared to the visiting team tail.

  • siddharthxoom on December 4, 2015, 21:13 GMT

    Rahane is on the path of being Mr dependable. Whenever India is in trouble this guy has the tendency of coming up with a gem of an innings. He is also a very good slip fielder that adds to his value.

    I would argue for Dhawan to be give a bit more chance due to the left right combination. he probably needs one good innings to get back on track, but if he soon doesn't click he might need to make way.

    The problem is replacement for Dhawan, most probably Rahul is a separate story. He scores a century in one match and is a big flop in the next 5. Not scoring runs is fine to an extent but the manner in which he tries to fetch and feel the ball while he is batting and the way he gets out is not assuring at all.

    Rohit sharma, i feel should be persisted as well. He was dropped in a couple of test matches and scored runs in mid 20's and 30's in two innings. 90% batsmen struggled on these pitches. it enables him for some brownie points. Kohli should be thinking of utilizing his part time spin.

  •   Mohammad Faisal on December 4, 2015, 18:38 GMT

    Plz stop Rohit bashing guys, If we are going to play with 6 Frontline batsman than R Sharma is best bet as he can play freely with lower order, and if we r going with just 5 then he may not find a place in d team

  •   Madhusudhan B Mysooru on December 4, 2015, 18:33 GMT

    This is not the first rescue knock by Jinxy. He already have played quite few rescue innings and announced he was Mr. Dependable, which is very important for Team India which always find itself in trouble. Whoever has made the Rohit Sharma's selection should come out and explain about how the zombie decision was took. National Selection Committee has completely failed to give a young talent a chance in place of Rohit Sharma.

  • paddingupchris on December 4, 2015, 18:25 GMT

    I think the south African batting coach should have a 1 2 1 with his batsmen

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