India’s stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane drew widespread praise after their bowlers skittled out Australia for 195 on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test at MCG, but Sunil Gavaskar refused to jump to conclusions about the leadership, saying both are from the same city Mumbai.
Rahane, standing in for Virat Kohli who is back in India for the birth of his first child, was impressive with his field setting and bowling changes. After bowling Australia out cheaply, India went to stumps at 36 for 1, having the upper hand.
“Let’s not jump to conclusions too quickly. If I say that his captaincy is outstanding, then again, I will be accused of backing a Mumbai boy and all kinds of things will happen. So, I don’t want to get into that because these are early days," Gavaskar joked on Sony Sports Network.
“From what I have seen in the last two Tests he captained and the one-day matches he captained, he has got a great sense of where the fielders should be kept. Having said that, it’s very important for the bowlers to bowl to their field. If the bowlers bowl to the field, as they did today, then the captain looks very good," he said.
“It’s important for India to look beyond the fact that it’s only Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy. It’s the way Ashwin bowled, it’s the way Bumrah bowled, it’s the way Siraj made his debut. I mean imagine, being a new-ball bowler, and you don’t get to bowl a single delivery before the second session. Only in the second session, you get to bowl in the 27th over but he showed great spirit in the way he came and bowled.
“These are the things we should enjoy. It tells you a lot about this Indian team that they were at the Australians and they got the early wicket. If they hadn’t got the early wicket, if Australia had gotten to a 60 or 70 for zero kind of start, then their body language might have been different."
Meanwhile, former India players VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag hailed Rahane’s leadership.
Excellent days 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. #INDvAUS— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) December 26, 2020
Outstanding bowling changes and really smart fielding placements from Rahane.And the bowlers delivered . Ashwin, 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 #AUSvIND— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) December 26, 2020
Gavaskar had earlier triggered controversy claiming ‘different rules for different people’ in the Indian team, pointing to the way ace spinner R Ashwin is treated. Gavaskar had also pointed out that T Natarajan had not taken paternity leave while Kohli did.
“For far too long Ashwin has suffered not for his bowling ability of which only the churlish will have doubts, but for his forthrightness and speaking his mind at meetings where most others just nod even if they don’t agree," Gavaskar wrote in his column for Sportstar.
“Any other country would welcome a bowler who has more than 350 Test wickets and not to forget four Test match centuries, too. However, if Ashwin doesn’t take heaps of wickets in one game he is invariably sidelined for the next one. That does not happen to established batsmen though. Even if they fail in one game they get another chance and another and another but for Ashwin the rules seem to be different.
“Another player who will wonder about the rules but, of course, can’t make any noise about it as he is a newcomer. It is T. Natarajan. The left-arm yorker specialist who made an impressive debut in the T20 and had Hardik Pandya gallantly offering to share the man of the T20 series prize with him had become a father for the first time even as the IPL playoffs were going on. He was taken to Australia directly from the UAE and then looking at his brilliant performances, he was asked to stay on for the Test series but not as a part of the team but as a net bowler. Imagine that," wrote Gavaskar.
“A match winner, albeit in another format, being asked to be a net bowler. He will thus return home only after the series ends in the third week of January and get to see his daughter for the first time then. And there is the captain going back after the first Test for the birth of his first child. That’s Indian cricket. Different rules for different people. If you don’t believe me ask Ravi Ashwin and T. Natarajan."
(With IANS inputs)