India achieved a comfortable 82-run lead after stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane slammed his 12th Test ton to put the visitors in a commanding position at the MCG. On the second day of the Boxing Day clash against Australia, Rahane, leading the side in Virat Kohli's absence, exhibited his textbook batting technique to put India in the driver's seat.
The 32-year-old also became only the second Indian skipper to score a Test century at the MCG. Rahane is now also the second Indian player to have scored multiple centuries at the venue, with Vinoo Mankad being the first one. He remained unbeaten at stumps as India finished the day on 277/5, 82 runs ahead of the hosts who were bundled out for 195 in the first innings on Saturday.
Rahane was in the middle on 104 while all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was with him at the crease on 40 as the two built a century stand for the sixth wicket. India were reduced to 64/3 but Rahane's gutsy ton saved the touring party from a batting debacle. Rahane took 195 balls to score his 12th Test ton laced with 11 boundaries; also making him the 10th Indian captain to score a century in Test cricket history.
On the first day of the Test, Rahane's captaincy tactics, field placements and decision to introduce Ravi Ashwin early into the attack were also lauded by many former cricketers and fans. Following his spectacular batting show on the second day, former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting was also in awe of Rahane.
“I think he’s done a great job to pick up the pieces from Adelaide with this team, lead really well in the field yesterday and you can see he’s playing like a captain now as well.
He wants to play that captain’s knock; he wants to get a hundred in Virat’s absence and do the best thing he can to try and drag his country and his team back into this series,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
With Rahane boasting a 100 per cent win ratio in Tests prior to the on-going MCG Test, comparisons between him and regular skipper Kohli are inevitable. Ponting, however, feels that it's going to take 'something special' to challenge Kohil's position as the captain of the side.
“Virat will be captain of India as long as he wants to, but if he thinks standing down is going to make him an even better player, then that’s a scary thing for world cricket.
“I’m not doubting Kohli’s captaincy skills or credentials at all, I’m just saying it’s going to take something special to pick up the pieces and Rahane’s been able to do that so far. I don’t think there’ll be pressure from anywhere else for Kohli to do that but let’s wait and see," Ponting further said.