Ajinkya Rahane has been one of India’s most trusted batsmen in overseas conditions over the last 8 years. He is one of the very few international batsmen who has a higher away batting average of 44.44 as compared to his home average of 36.47. As he turns 33 today - on the 6th of June - we look back at five of his finest overseas performances in Test cricket.
1. 112 vs Australia at THE MCG, 2020
This is regarded as one of the greatest hundreds by a visiting batsman in Australia. India were down and out and had been bowled out for 36 - their lowest-score in Test history in Adelaide. Ajinkya Rahane took over the mantle of leading the team from Virat Kohli who had gone back to India to attend the birth of his child. The team was in disarray. Rahane led the fightback. After marshalling his troops brilliantly and dismissing Australia for 195 in the first innings, Rahane came out to bat in a pressure situation at 61 for 2 which soon worsened to 64 for 3. It was make or break for India.
A batting collapse there and it could well have ended 4-0 to Australia. But the stand-in-captain had other plans. He combined with Vihari, Pant and Jadeja and produced a masterclass 112 defying the likes of Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood on a helpful MCG wicket. By the time he was dismissed, ironically through a run-out, India’s lead had almost stretched to hundred. The captain’s knock inspired the other team members who raised their game for the rest of the match. Australia were routed for 200 in the second innings and India went on to register a famous win by 8 wickets. It was a dramatic comeback by the Indian team led by their captain Rahane.
2. 103 vs England at Lord’s, 2014
While Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were the heroes with the ball for India in their famous win at Lord’s in 2014, it was Ajinkya Rahane who had set up the match for the hosts with an under-pressure hundred. Put in by Alastair Cook, India were in trouble at 86 for 3 when Rahane walked out to join Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle. India kept losing wickets from the other end and were in dire straits at 145 for 7.
With every other batsman failing around him, Rahane only had the bowlers to give him company. He combined with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and put together 90 for the eighth wicket leading India’s fightback. While Kumar held up one end with 36 off 84 deliveries, Rahane was the aggressor with 50 off just 64 deliveries. He added another 40 off just 28 balls with Mohammed Shami and had taken India to closer to 300 at the time of his dismissal - double of what most pundits expected them to score after the loss of seven wickets.
While every other specialist batsmen struggled to score, Rahane notched up a magnificent 103 off just 154 deliveries which included 15 fours and a six. India posted 295. Kumar’s all-round show, Ishant Sharma’s inspired bowling performance and fine batting performances from Murali Vijay and Ravindra Jadeja in the second innings took India to a famous 95-run victory and significantly a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
3. 51 not out and 96 vs South Africa in Durban, 2013
It was the second Test in Durban in 2013. India had put up a spirited effort in the first innings scoring 334 but had still conceded a massive 166-run lead. Rahane had scored a patient unbeaten 51 batting at number 6 but his more impressive knock came in the second innings. Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander were at their peak and had reduced India to 71 for 4 when Rahane joined Rohit Sharma at the crease. India kept losing wickets from one end but Rahane stood like a rock and defied the world-class pace attack which also comprised Morne Morkel.
Rahane got some support from the Indian tail and played his strokes from the other. While a defeat was inevitable India wanted to avoid the humiliation of going down by an innings. Rahane’s fluent 96 off 157 balls ensured just that. India lost the match but made South Africa bat again and in the process were not shamed in defeat.
4. 81 vs England in Nottingham, 2018
Rahane produced a master-class against England in the third Test at Trent Bridge in 2018. He joined his skipper, Virat Kohli at 82 for 3 in the first innings and changed the complexion of the match with a fine 81 off 131 deliveries. Rahane matched Kohli stroke for stroke in the 159-run stand which came off just 242 deliveries. India posted a competitive 329 and dictated play thereafter. They went on to register a famous win by 203 runs and kept their hopes alive in the series.
5. 81 & 102 vs West Indies in North Sound, 2019
Rahane rescued India on two occasions in the series opener against the West Indies at North Sound in 2019 and top-scored for the country in both the innings. He came out to bat at 25 for 3 in the first innings, weathered the storm forging meaningful partnerships with the lower-middle order and scored 81.
India had a substantial first innings’ lead but were again in a spot of bother at 81 for 3 in the second innings. And again came the crisis-man Rahane and formed a match-defining stand for the fourth wicket with skipper Kohli.
Rahane batted West Indies out of the match stitching a second successive century partnership with Hanuma Vihari. Rahane scored a classic 102 as India set the hosts a mammoth 419 for victory. The Indian pace trio of Bumrah, Shami and Ishant Sharma ran through the West Indian batting line-up and routed them for hundred handing their team a massive 318-run victory.