Melbourne, December 26
Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar is impressed by Ajinkya Rahane’s field placements but said he would refrain from praising his captaincy as it was still “early days” and he did not want to be accused of backing a fellow Mumbaikar.
Taking charge of the team in the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli, Rahane marshalled his resources well as India dismissed Australia for a sub-par 195 in 72.3 overs on the opening day of the second Test here.
Asked for his comments on Rahane’s leadership, Gavaskar said: “… let’s not jump into 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,” the legendary batsman said on Sony Sports Network.
Gavaskar was impressed with Rahane’s field placements as three Australian batsmen – Marnus Labuschange, Steve Smith, and Travis Head – were all caught by fielders deployed at different positions.
“From what I have seen in the last 2 Tests he captained and the one-day matches he captained, he has got a great sense of where the fielders should be kept,” said Gavaskar.
“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.”
Rahane was impressive with his bowling changes also. He introduced R Ashwin inside the first hour of play and the senior spinner delivered, dismissing Matthew Wade and Steve Smith to reduce Australia to 38 for three.
Rahane also didn’t give debutant Mohammed Siraj a single over before lunch break as he knew that his strength is generating pace and movement with semi-new and old ball as the pacer returned with two crucial wickets.
Gavaskar said it was important to attribute India’s success on the opening day to the efforts made by the bowling unit.
“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,” said the 71-year-old.
“I mean imagine, being a new-ball bowlers, 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 (Siraj) showed great spirit in the way he came and bowled.
“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 0 kind of start, then their body language might have been different.”
Gavaskar was “pretty surprised at the fact that on Day 1 there’s a lot of turn for the Indian spinners”.
Ashwin exploited the turn and bounce at the MCG to capture three wickets for 35, which included the prized scalp of Smith, who was dismissed for a duck for the first time in over four years in Test cricket.
“He’s (Ashwin) been bowling straight, he’s been bowling on the middle and leg, it’s been pretty much a plan to try and restrict the batsmen from playing any shot through the off-side,” said Gavaskar.
“If you look at Smith’s dismissal because maybe he was on zero he wanted to get off the mark, wasn’t able to control it.” PTI