Captain Ajinkya Rahane remains unconquered

As soon as Virat Kohli left, the responsibility to lead India was on Ajinkya Rahane. As the number of injuries kept mounting, the team appeared battered and bruised. Some senior players were ruled out. Some players were racially abused. But they went beyond all the odds and clinched the Border-Gavaskar trophy after breaching the Gabba fortress on January 19, 2021. Certainly, becoming a bunch of high-spirited lads led by an ingenious stand-in captain.

Rahane, 32, first captained the Indian team in a Test against Australia in 2017 in Dharamshala. Quite an incident that was. Virat Kohli sustained an injury Rahane made his debut as the Test captain. In 2018, Rahane captained India against Afghanistan in Bangalore. It was all hunky-dory for the lads as they won the lone Test by an innings and 262 runs. Before the Border-Gavaskar series he got the crown twice and ended on the victorious side. Eventually, both the triumphs occurred in India.

The Mumbai based cricketer had no experience of leading the men outside India. In December 2020 he received the opportunity to captain his side in the last three Tests Down Under. But taking the charge of the team after losing their first Test match at Adelaide Oval was no cakewalk for Rahane. India got bundled out for 36 in their second innings in the first Test. Perhaps demoralized. Rahane stitched the character and determination and it took a herculean effort from India to keep the ship sailing and hopes alive.

And the boot was on the other foot in Melbourne where the visitors defeated the hosts by eight wickets. Rahane played the captain’s knock when the top order trembled on the second day in the second Test. He became the second Indian skipper to strike a century on his first match as captain in Australia. Kohli is the first one.

After that, valiance was shown by the men at Sydney Cricket Ground. Hanuma Vihari batted for four hours and Ravichandran Ashwin for more than three hours to mark a draw that will be etched on memories. One for the ages. Today at Gabba in Brisbane, his men breached the fortress, unfollowed the script, and thrashed the scars.

In 1988, West Indies penned a winning note at Gabba. After 32 years, the fortress is all blue. Rahane and his men flapped the flag high up in the air. Leading India in five Test matches, Rahane clubbed four wins and one draw. He has displayed sheer tenacity every time.

The young eyes were completely on the trophy and the captain motivated them. A calm persona with full grit making his appearance as the captain occasionally. But keeping the winning streak intact. This series has tested intent, resolution, persistence and captain Rahane has made India proud. The only fortress that is standing high today. And gleaming.

 

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