New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Wellington, 2nd day

Rahane shows his X-factor

When he first played for India, Ajinkya Rahane's shy demeanor left many wondering if he had the extra edge in personality that separates top-class international players from the rest. He has now dispelled those doubts

Abhishek Purohit in Wellington

February 15, 2014

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Ajinkya Rahane is ecstatic after scoring a hundred, New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, 2nd day, Wellington, February 15, 2014
Rahane's muted celebration upon reaching his maiden Test century showed no hint of how long he had waited for the moment © AFP

As Ajinkya Rahane sat down to address the end-of-day press conference after scoring his maiden Test century, a senior journalist, who has known him for years, walked up. He told Rahane he was going to ask the centurion a question in Marathi, Rahane's mother tongue. Rahane, to put it mildly, isn't the most eloquent man when he speaks English or Hindi, and the journalist told him he'd better give him a decent answer in Marathi. Rahane grinned sheepishly and nodded like a dutiful schoolboy.

He is that sort of man, the sort who will give you a hurt look if you politely turn down his offer of tea at his house, the sort who will apologise if he couldn't pick up your call. "So sorry, but I was out with family."

How, you wondered, would this almost meek boy survive in this team of superstars and superstar-size egos, when he first came into the side.

He had a mountain of first-class runs backing him, of course, but did he have what goes around by the queer name of X-factor? Did he have that extra edge in his game and personality that separates top-class international players from the rest? Was he merely humble, or was he unable to assert himself, unable to absorb real pressure? After his first two Test tours to South Africa and New Zealand, we can safely conclude it must be the former. Underneath that seemingly soft exterior lurks a solid Test batsman, and he was on display at the Basin Reserve.

Rahane walked in at 165 for 5 and left at 423 for 9. He didn't hunt down the opposition with the magnetic force of Virat Kohli. He didn't leave you marveling at his style and the beauty of his strokes like Rohit Sharma. He didn't make you feel the intensity of the effort he was putting in like Cheteshwar Pujara. He made a pretty cultured century under pressure, but he did it so unobtrusively you were actually shocked to look at the scoreboard once and find he was already on 90.

And how expertly he had got there. His judgment of his off stump was superb. Anything not too wide or too close was left, barring a couple of edges that fortunately went through gaps in the cordon. A few others were played softly enough to not carry. The front-foot drives, body leaning into the stroke, were of a man eager to score and sure of his execution. The back-foot punches, following from where he left off in South Africa, showed his ability to get on top of the considerable bounce and still hit boundaries, a quality not many batsmen possess.

He had had a clear plan and was determined to stick to it whatever the temptation. "I was focusing on getting them to bowl to my strength," Rahane said. "That plan was successful. When they were bowling outside off, my plan was to keep leaving. Even if they bowl there all day, I will leave all day. Finally they had to bowl to my plan. They needed wickets dearly."

The wickets were going down at the other end, though. Rahane was still on 90 when Zaheer Khan joined him, and promptly swished his second ball for four. Not too long ago, Rahane had almost been in tears when he was last out for 96 in Durban. "I know how crucial four runs are now, because hundred is a hundred. When you get out on 96, it comes in fifties," the Mumbai batsman in him explained.

Four dots next over. Fifth ball, he walked out and turned through midwicket. Three, if there was no Zaheer. Only two were trotted. Next ball sprayed too wide outside off to prevent him from taking the single. Called wide. Last ball he tried to turn to midwicket again.

That brought a fortuitous edge over the cordon for four. This was to be the day.

That precious hundred came with a pulled boundary. It had taken more than 5500 first-class runs and 20 first-class hundreds. It had taken years on the bench, years spent watching your competitors get there before him, get there many times. Did he feel frustrated? Did he fret about when his chance would come? His reply, that they were his "seniors", was representative of the man.

"This thought never came to my mind," he said. "Rohit and Virat are senior to me. When I was not playing I was learning from them as well. What improvements they have made to their game, what kind of shots they play and how they play in different situations. Definitely I learned a lot. I never thought that they have got hundreds and I have not got an opportunity."

As representative was the muted celebration. He looked as if he felt he would antagonise the world if he displayed a shred more emotion than the low limit he had set. A few of his friends were watching from the wooden benches at the Basin, and they had set no such limits.

They wept openly, and happily. And for once, you could say with conviction that it couldn't have happened to a nicer man.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by venkyind on (February 17, 2014, 7:54 GMT)

seeing rahane and kohli together while building a patnership its like don bradman and viv richards play in an innings together

Posted by   on (February 16, 2014, 0:14 GMT)

Love this guy bat, the sweet timing. In SA when Dale Styne was breathing fire, he kept driving straight. Should come ahead of Rohit. Rohit would want to play his shots and is more suited to play with tailenders.

Posted by mannan_ma on (February 15, 2014, 23:16 GMT)

Nicely written. The author understood Rahane's character perfectly when he talks about his humility. Rahane showed that he is a very humble man when he did not let his emotions get better of him as soon as he had hit the ball towards the boundry to cross hundred. We would have still loved him if he had jumped in the air and gesticulated towards the dressing room, but no such expressions from him means that he carries a very mature and sober head on his slender shoulders. His technique is like Dravid's. This is surely a first of the many hundreds from this cricketer in the future.Good luck Mr. COOL, that is my nick name for Ajinkya.

Posted by baskar_guha on (February 15, 2014, 23:10 GMT)

The world of cricket needs more Rahanes -- ones who let their cricket do the talking.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 21:45 GMT)

First it was Shikhar Dhawan and now Ajinkya Rahane, these are great finds for Indian team! Rahane resembled a lot like his role model Rahul Dravid in the way he played yesterday. Great technique and control the way he plays his shots, you feel more secure as a fan when he is out there! A feeling which is hard to associate with other players like Rohit Sharma. Has he finally delivered the innings thats going to see India register their first away win in 3 years??

Posted by wolf777 on (February 15, 2014, 21:33 GMT)

Rahane is a good number 5 ...need to drop dead weight Tendulkar wanna be from the team. Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara Kohli, Rhane and Dhoni to follow there is no need for the sixth batsman. Even Bapu in the lower order can bat as well.

Posted by howzzattt on (February 15, 2014, 18:55 GMT)

There are two Mumbai lads in this Indian test side, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. I still feel Rahane should be a regular in the test format ahead of Rohit because he has the hunger and passion. Rohit Sharma can't be given a longer rope and if he fails more often than not. He should be replaced with either Rayudu, Manoj Tiwari, Lokesh Rahul, Kedhar Jadhav or Karun Nair. We have a lot of guys with potential in the domestic circuit. I personally feel Rohit Sharma is wasting his talent because even in the first innings here, his dismissal was due to a rubbish shot.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 18:53 GMT)

It was definitely a fabulous innings from Rahane and which India needed the most at this time of the match. Abhishek Purohit has not mentioned the way Dhoni made life easier for Rahane by taking on the NZ attack in his calculated way. Dhoni must have been watching Kohli struggle from the pavilion and see what McCullum was trying to do- deny India scoring by bowling wide of stumps ( Negative tactics ) and at the same time consuming those 20 odd overs without conceding runs till they could get the new Ball. Dhoni came in a changed that in one single over stamping his authority over Wagner with 4X 4s in an over and when the new ball was taken he was well settled to destroy any idea McCullum had of taking any wickets and in the process made it easier for Rahane to score without being noticed as NZ were concentrating more on Dhoni than Rahane ! Gr8 Planner MS Dhoni and hats off to you and Rahane !

Posted by yjreddyindia on (February 15, 2014, 18:16 GMT)

I think Rahane is our new Dravid. i expected rahane to be there in indian team two years earlier..Great going rahane..keep it up.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 17:14 GMT)

if these batsman continue to bat the way they have been. We are soon going to witness superstars of the new era or one could say post sachin era of the indian cricket when it comes to test format. Vijay, pujara, dhawan, kohli, and rahanae along with indian captain backing them up at no. 7. Still doubtful about Rohit sharma though. India will soon start winning test matches and india soon won't have to worry about who will fill the shoes of dravid, ganguly, sachin and laxman. But what worries me though is the bowling. Shami has been doing good but not good enough. Sharma has just started to gain confidence and hope he keeps bowling the way he has on this tour. zaheer's time is up. Somebody needs to take his place, could be pandey or anybody.

Posted by dadasupporterNO.1 on (February 15, 2014, 17:09 GMT)

he's good batsman and pure gentleman very rare sight nwdays GO RAHANE GO

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 17:02 GMT)

SRT, SG,VVS and RD were the back bone of Indian batting for a long time , now it will be filled and i have never used the word replaced by Virat, Rohit, Rahane and Pujara

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 16:48 GMT)

Nice guy, great innings. Still some work to do as he tends to overbalance and can be lbw to the ball moving in from off. Great attitude too as he comes out with elbow pads while fielding ready to get dirty and give it his all. Does 2/3 things very well. Thats what will keep him in contention in all forms of cricket.

Posted by tashan329 on (February 15, 2014, 16:47 GMT)

Rahane is the best fielder in Indian team.

Posted by BeingCricketFan on (February 15, 2014, 16:35 GMT)

Ajinkya Rahane the only cricketer after SRT who makes me ride high on emotions, I feel extremely happy when he scores and extremely sad when he fails or misses on a milestone, I do like many cricketers but prior to SRT & Rahane none made me feel that emotions which one let's you feel when one close to your heart.

Best of luck for your future and keep proving critics wrong..

Posted by aativas on (February 15, 2014, 16:18 GMT)

Ajinkya, I am so glad that IT FINALLY happened .. I had no doubt about it, but the moment had to be Realized. I am also glad that you remember two greats Dravid and Sachin. It is your hard work and talent and patience that has brought you this glorious moment. Keep it up and many more centuries will come your way. I am sure you will always be Dravid- Sachin like cricketer in spirit. Well Done!

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 16:14 GMT)

Gr8 news.finally we have VVS,SRT,RD in form of Pujara,Vrat& Bowling dept we Shami is giving hope, Now we need to concentrate on getting someone who bowl like Steyn or Waseem...

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 16:13 GMT)

While comparing Rahane with Pujar, Kohly and Rohit, it has to be mentioned that Rahane's innings was gracegul and with effortless ease. It is treat to watch him batting, when he gets going.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 16:01 GMT)

Been patient enough and messed around by selectors but Rahane never gave up his dream

Posted by ForTeamIndia on (February 15, 2014, 15:51 GMT)

In Pujara, Virat and Rahane, India have found the FAB3 for next decade. Drop Vijay and bring in KL Rahul and the world will see the 4th FAB. I have watched him in Chinnaswamy and he is an amazing talent. He is young and from the Dravid, Rahane school of cricket.

Posted by Jaganplus on (February 15, 2014, 15:15 GMT)

If rohit will be in the line up forever at least we we switch rahane to #3 and rohit to #4. I hope he is goes though.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 15:04 GMT)

Love the way he interact, love the way he builds his innings, and loved the way he celebrated with a smile, no flashy punches in the air.

Without a doubt his involvement in RR with Rahul Dravid has helped him a lot to become a better player and a human being as well. Royals seems to be the team that contributes to Indian cricket a lot by nurturing these young players.

Let's see now how Unmukt Chand, Ankush Bains and Deepak Hooda develops under Rahul Dravid in RR this year.

All the best Ajinkya, you're truely a gem of a person and a player who have a bright future ahead.

Posted by prasanna_79 on (February 15, 2014, 15:02 GMT)

Congrats to Rahane on a well made hundred.. Now is the time to work even harder & churn up some consistent performances in the future test series against tougher opponents.. Pl try your level best to achieve consistency in ODIs as well.. India need all our batters to do well in the top order consistently for us to have a decent chance of defending the WC.. All the best Ajinkya..

Posted by viswag59 on (February 15, 2014, 14:47 GMT)

Ajinkya, We are extremely happy about your success. Please keep your eyes on the records of Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar. IN TERMS OF POTENTIAL, YOU ARE NO LESS THAN EITHER OF THEM. TAKE YOUR PLACE NEXT TO BOTH AND GET THAT 100.00+ TEST BATTING AVERAGE OVER THE NEXT 15 YEARS.

Also, remain as humble as you are today and as humble Sachin was throughout his career. That would show the world that abrasive behavior is NOT essential to be successful.

We wish you man-many more hundreds, double-hundreds and triple-hundreds. All the best to you. Viswa

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 14:34 GMT)

He has wonderful technique. To watch: how he plays in England where the ball moves around a lot more. Wonderful player.

Posted by Nampally on (February 15, 2014, 14:02 GMT)

Rahane is a true example of humility inherited from the past greats Dravid & Tendulkar. He is almost apologetic even when he gets his century & a totally opposite character to Kohli. He was the sheet anchor of the Indian batting, staying at the crease while over 250 runs were added to the Indian total. India badly needed such a sheet anchor once Pujara failed to execute his role. What an innings of patience, discipline & controlled aggression. Bravo, Rahane, you did India proud with your superb century. Strangely enough he had the face saving partnership with Dhoni - who had "benched him umpteen times" & finally reluctantly included him in XI. That was the face saving partnership of 120 runs which carried India into a winning position. Dhoni's knock was equally great under pressure. Sadly the Umpires again failed in their duty in calling Wagner's No-balls when he bowled over the wkts.& cut the return crease at least 3 times/over! It was only exposed by TV when ZAK was caught in slips!

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 13:29 GMT)

In terms of talent in this Indian team the batters come in following order- 1)Rohit 2)Shikhar 3)Virat 4)Rahane 5)Pujara 6)Vijay

In terms of technique the order is as follows 1)Pujara 2)Rahane 3)Virat 4)Rohit 5)Shikhar 6)Vijay

In terms of mental strength and work ethics 1)Virat 2)Shikhar 3)Pujara/Rahane 5)Vijay and a distant sixth, Rohit

In terms of aggression Virat Shikhar Vijay Rohit Pujara Rahane

Now judging by the success of these folks in test arena , you can deduce yourself which factor is most important

Posted by nikhil_indian_fan on (February 15, 2014, 13:04 GMT)

often in cricket the quiet, subtle and gentlemen like batsmen are ignored (VVS, DRAVID, VIJAY, PUJARA) because the flamboyant and aggressive batsmen take up all the glory but we can't ignore the fact that solid batsmen like rahane and pujara are a must to any decent test batting line up. i salute this man for showing his class and doing it so patiently. i hope the selectors are watching and they reward him for his performance.

well done ajankiya

Posted by GreenBouncySpin on (February 15, 2014, 12:54 GMT)

Excellent article Purohit. Not long ago, I too belonged to the group of Rahane doubters. Mind you, not in his abilities, but that same meek-boy element you pointed out. Many new young international cricketers now are flamboyant, flashy and aggressive. While it is very refreshing to see players like Rahane - there was this doubt whether he can stand up and deliver great performances such as today. And what a performance it is - I, along with many million others, today are completely convinced that Rahane belongs truly and is here to stay for a long time to come. Dhawan (after his revival from last test), Pujara, Kohli and Rahane are going to be our fab 4. While Rohit sharma has couple of good performances against WI in India, he still needs time to prove to the world and more importantly to his own self. Vijay showed great character as an opener - it is always going to be difficult but he surely will come around. Another era of India batting greats to come - watch out world !!

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 12:28 GMT)

I think Pujara Virat and Rahane are three good bats for India . I am still not convinced about vijay and rohit sharma . I feel ryadu will be a better fit in that line up and we need a better keeper/bat for tests

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 12:22 GMT)

Firstly, I congratulation to Ajinkya rane, his batting style and patient is remembering the Rahul Dravid and he is a hard work player he will continued the same form in ODI also

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 12:16 GMT)

looks like we will have a new fab 5; Dhawan, Pujara, Virat, Rohit and Rahane..

Posted by ThePacifist10 on (February 15, 2014, 12:05 GMT)

I feel that this Test batting line-up is now very well settled. Vijay proved himself in SA. Dhawan has redeemed himself in NZ. Pujara was always good. As was Virat. Rohit hit a fifty in the previous match and did well. We must persist with him. Rahane has also solidified his position in the team. We now have a well-balanced top and middle order. We have fine 'swords' in Dhawan, Virat and Rohit. Our 'shields': Vijay, Pujara and Rahane have proven themselves to be quite resilient. I wouldn't mind trying Ashwin out as a Test opener. However, I think we have something that can last us for at least 5 years.

Posted by nareshgb1 on (February 15, 2014, 11:59 GMT)

He is like Pravin Amre - but he should probably paly much more for India than Amre did (unluckily I would say).

Good luck Ajinkya. I know people that mocked you and that "school of batsmanship" after the test against Australia, but I am glad you have proved them wrong. Now that you are in, make it count. You belong.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 11:50 GMT)

Dhawan just needed 1 overseas hundred to get into the groove, Rahane has done the same thing, another Laxman in the making, he has shown Dhoni how to play with tailenders.

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