Ajinkya Rahane celebrates his century against Australia in Melbourne
Ajinkya Rahane celebrates his hard-earned century against Australia in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne. Image Credit: AFP

Kolkata: It’s been quite an unusual situation for Ajinkya Rahane over the past few days. The crisis man of Indian Test team, who has learnt to develop a Zen-like stoicism in the face of some raw deals over the years, has certainly become the cynosure of all eyes ever since he inspired the country to one of their most stunning comebacks in the Boxing Day Test in Sydney. Be it his application and character in that epic innings of 112 against a top-drawer Australian attack, or the planning and innovative captaincy which caught the hosts by surprise, the round of applause around Rahane has not quite stopped - but his childhood coach and mentor Pravin Amre is not surprised by it.

‘‘I think he (Rahane) has spent a long time as Virat Kohli’s deputy and must have been making mental notes about match situations and how he would have reacted to them. His match-reading had always been strong and it’s great that he had been able to implement some of his ideas here,’’ said Amre.

The addition of Rohit (Sharma) to the squad as a vice-captain should be a help for Rahane. The two have played lot of their cricket together for Mumbai and have a good chemistry

- Pravin Amre, Coach of Ajinkya Rahane

The former Indian batsman of the Nineties may not have had an extended run in the international arena despite a century on Test debut in South Africa, but Amre is regarded as one of the shrewd coaching minds who had been in the running for Indian batting coach’s position and helped several leading Indian batsman iron out their flaws in the past. Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive chat from Mumbai, Amre said: ‘‘Not many people remember that during the 2017 home series against Australia, Rahane led the side in the Dharamsala Test as Kohli was injured. He decided to experiment with Kuldeep Yadav in the team and it paid rich dividends. He had also been the captain of Rajasthan Royals in IPL and mind you, leading an IPL side is no mean job as you have to earn the respect of the eight overseas players. Hence, he is no stranger to the art of captaincy.’’

There have been several high points of Rahane’s captaincy during the Melbourne Test, but the opening gambit was when Rahane brought on the wily Ravi Ashwin before lunch on first day - and the veteran off spinner vindicated his faith by removing Steve Smith and Matthew Wade to wrest the early initiative after the Adelaide nightmare. ‘‘The team had surely done their homework and Jinks deserves the credit for it. Australians have traditionally struggled against off-spinners, if you remember Harbhajan Singh’s exploits, and hence the idea of bringing on Ashwin so early,’’ said Amre.

Ever since his bow in international cricket in 2011, ironically in white ball variety where he is no longer in national reckoning, Rahane has had to prove himself time and again as a batsman - and his coach has no qualms about speaking out on the issue. ‘‘Ever since his debut, he has been under pressure. As far as I am concerned, he is suited for all the formats and I still feel if he was batting at No.4 in 2019 ICC World Cup, India’s campaign could have been different,’’ said a plain-speaking Amre.

Looking ahead at the Sydney Test which begins in four days’ time, Amre felt the team should start from scratch and try to get the basics of Test cricket right all over again by trying to win each session and take one day at a time. ‘‘The addition of Rohit (Sharma) to the squad as a vice-captain should be a help for Rahane. The two have played lot of their cricket together for Mumbai and have a good chemistry. The team should be responsible and try to build on the self-belief they derived by winning under so much pressure in Melbourne.

‘‘The Aussies will surely come back hard at us and hence, the team should be prapared,’’ Amre added.