India's stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane drew praise for his tactical acumen with former stars hailing his effective bowling changes that put the visitors in a dominating position in the second Test against Australia here on Saturday.
Australia opted to bat but it was India that seized the initiative with Rahane shuffling his bowlers smartly to keep the hosts under the pump. Whether it was the early introduction of off-spinner R Ashwin or the decision to hold back debutant Mohammed Siraj, all his ploys yielded results and eventually the hosts were all out for 195.
"Outstanding bowling changes and really smart fielding placements from Rahane. And the bowlers delivered. Ashwin, (Jasprit) Bumrah, Siraj were absolutely brilliant. Great effort to get Australia all out for 195 on the first day. Now for the batters to get a good first innings lead," former India opener Virender Sehwag tweeted.
Rahane is leading the side in the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli, who is on paternity leave. Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting said the credit to India's success on the opening day goes to Rahane's captaincy.
"(Rahane's captaincy) has been brilliant so far. We were all a bit worried about how they were going to pick themselves up after Adelaide. I think they looked potentially better today," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"Rahane's field placements, bowling changes have all been pretty much spot on. With captaincy, making bowling changes and changing the field, you need guys to be able to execute well. Some of the wickets they got today, even Smith at leg slip early on, I think that was a set plan. Joe Burns' dismissal would have been exactly how they wanted it."
Bumrah (4/56) dismissed four Australia batsmen while Siraj (2/40) accounted for two. Australian spin legend Shane Warne was extremely pleased with the way action unfolded on day one.
"What a terrific day of cricket at the MCG today. Congrats to the ground staff on preparing the best wicket at the MCG for a long time. More of these type of pitches please ! The Indian bowlers were outstanding too & very well lead (sic) by @ajinkyarahane88! Can India bat all day?," the leg-spinner tweeted.
Former India batsman VVS Laxman was impressed with debutants Shubman Gill, and Mohammed Siraj and the new leader at the helm. "Excellent day's play for India. Bowlers were once again sensational, both the debutants looked confident, Rahane captained the side really well but most importantly they didn't carry the baggage of the loss from Adelaide," Laxman tweeted.