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Shades of Sachin at Edgbaston


Ajinkya_Rahane_Sachin_Tendulkar_Cricket_IndiaFor the Cricket fan that has been yearning to get a glimpse of Tendulkar beyond the Kabaddi matches and inauguration of the fledgling football league, there was something in store at Edgbaston. You would have seen it if you had chosen to look a little closely though.

In a throwback straight to the best of those times when Tendulkar and Ganguly walked out to bat together and presented a perfect lesson in ODI batting in tandem, Rahane and Dhawan decimated the English attack with the same authority, intent, and calculation. While I won’t take that comparison further, let me draw some similarities that caught my eye.

Rahane, opening as a makeshift opener in the place of injured Rohit Sharma started off the rather modest chase by seeing off the early steam from the English opening attack, all the while blocking, leaving, and more importantly getting the sense of the the pitch. Benign as it was, made to look devilish by inept English batsmanship, Rahane quickly saw his moment coming on the friendly Edgebaston track.

Then at the start of fifth over Anderson tried to get Rahane to play more and pitched it up on his legs. In a flash the ball was sent racing past midwicket, played uppishly but safe. Maximum wrists, minimum muscle. Next one met the same fate, albeit it went along the carpet and much squarer. When Anderson corrected the next delivery and pitched it up outside off, Rahane had got on to his front foot, waited for ages and then just let the bat meet the ball at that perfect moment to send it screeching past covers. If the ball were a rocket, you would have seen a silvery trail on that hallowed green carpet. The fourth boundary of that over came when Anderson flirted yet again on Rahane’s legs.

Rahane did what Sachin had done for more than 25 years. It was reminiscent of the way Tendulkar had bossed over McGrath in India. This was to be Ajinkya’s day. This was to be that innings when he stoke the imagination of a Sachin fan and made him sit up and take notice.

Moving his attention from Anderson to Finn, Rahane unveiled yet another Tendulkar special. The push down the ground, with a high elbow, raced past the right leg of the umpire reminded one of Tendulkar’s two special straight drives against Brett Lee at MCG in 2008. Now Finn may not be express fast, but that’s beside the point. Rahane had rolled up his timing and elegance into a moment of absolute batting bliss.

When Sachin was in mood he could be Frank Sinatra and Mohammed Ali, all at once. Ajinkya hit another on drive past Finn- this was brute force. Played with an angled bat, he had slapped Finn to the long on boundary with Finn barely getting the time to bend down in his stride. When Finn came around the wicket and banged in short, Rahane dispatched him with disdain over the midwicket boundary. If only Caddick was watching.

While Finn was struggling for answers, Rahane wasn’t done with Anderson yet. To add insult to Anderson’s injured ego, Ajinkya danced down the wicket to hit a glorious six over long on. Straight out of that final against Australia in 1998 when Sachin had thrown Kasprowicz out of orbit over long on. Wilko was on the mike. “Oh! Easily done and he is taking a real linking to Jimmy Anderson and Anderson will not enjoy this one bit.” None of the Australian great fast enjoyed it when Sachin did that to them either.

The offspin of Moeen Ali was slog swept for six and then Rahane used his feet to loft him straight over the sight screen for a six. There was a tickle down the leg for a boundary. Closing in on a century, he got perfectly under the Woakes bouncer outside off and directed it over the third man boundary. The hundred was to come off a tuck towards square leg with the batsman sprinting down for the well run second.

The helmet came off to celebrate the first hundred. The helmet and bat raised to greet the applauding crowd.

It took Tendulkar nearly eighty games to get his first hundred in limited overs game. Thankfully Rahane did not have to wait that long. The way Rahane paced his innings was straight out of Tendulkar School of ODI batting- start with caution, then lord them over with aggression, milk them with precision when they go defensive, and ultimately flatten them out completely, to finish with a strike rate of well over hundred on the way to reaching a ton.

Now if only Rahane can maintain the same ethos that made Tendulkar the great that he was. He has the temperament as was proved in the recent test series. We have seen that Rahane the aggressor of early years has shown enough versatility to remodel his game to suit the team’s needs. Like Tendulkar, he has got the opener’s slot as an accident and he has shown that he belongs there in his first dig. Just like Tendulkar did in that cold winter of New Zealand.

The similarities don’t end there. It is a beginning. In a recent interview with Mark Nicholas, Dhoni says,

“I care most about how people live their lives, what choices they make and how they get the best from themselves. This is why people such as Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin and Rahul are heroes of mine. And I love young talent, Ajinkya Rahane for instance, and urge him to be himself, to trust his talent and allow it to work for him within the parameters of his capabilities. He did that at Lord’s and the hundred he made was among the best I have seen by any Indian batsman.”

To get your name mentioned in the same breath as Mr. Bachchan, Sachin, and Rahul by the world cup winning India skipper, this kid Rahane surely must be a very very special kid.


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I am a simple Cricket fan, just like you. I played Cricket after school, bruised my knees, and then...

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