New Delhi: Indian Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane received a grand welcome back home after leading Team India to a historic 2-1 series win over Australia away from home. But soon after England registered a 227-run win against England in the first Test in Chennai, Rahane was criticised by experts and cricket fans for scoring just 1 run in the Chennai Test. Skipper Virat Kohli backed his deputy and said he was the most important Test player for the team in whites alongside Cheteshwar Pujara.
In Kohli’s absence in Australia, Rahane rose to the occasion and set the tone for a historic comeback by smashing a hundred in Melbourne. However, since then, he hasn’t managed to put big runs on board. Calling Rahane an ‘impact player’ for the team, Kohli said the Mumbai batsman will continue to be India’s most important player along with Pujara in Tests going forward.
“Ajinkya Rahane is, I have said this many times in the past as well, along with Cheteshwar Pujara is our most important Test batsman and he is going to continue to be. We believe in his abilities, we have believed in his abilities for a long time now. He is an impact player.
“In the MCG Test, he stood up and scored a hundred for his team when we wanted it the most. You can look at the number of innings and what happens from there on, the reality of the situation is we won the series in Australia,” Kohli told reporters on Tuesday.
In the opening Test against England, Rahane was caught brilliantly at short cover by England skipper Root for 1 while he was bowled by James Anderson for a third-ball duck in the second innings. Kohli recalled how Rahane played a memorable knock in Melbourne and backed him to deliver the goods.
“And here, there is just one test, two innings. Today, yes, you can put that innings aside. In the first innings, he wanted to score a boundary. It was a brilliant catch by Joe Root that got rid of him. If that had gone for a boundary and he had scored runs, we are not having this conversation. There are absolutely no issues. Everyone is playing well, we need to execute better. Understand the conditions better, nothing is given in Test cricket and play well as a team. That’s our focus,” Kohli said. Since scoring a ton in Melbourne, Rahane has produced knocks of 4, 22, 24, 37, 1 and 0 runs respectively in the purest format of the game. Most of the Indian batsmen failed to make an impact against England in the first Test where the tourists dominated in all departments of the game. Resuming play at 39/1 on the final day, Indian team was bowled out for 192.