'Tops the lot': Cricket world in awe of 'remarkable' feat

Andrew Reid
·5-min read
Pictured here, Ajinkya Rahane raises his arms after bringing up a century at the MCG.
Ajinkya Rahane celebrates one of the great captain's knocks at the MCG. Pic: Getty

Stand-in India skipper Ajinkya Rahane has been showered with praise across the cricket world after "one of the great" Test batting displays against Australia at the MCG.

Rahane stepped into the giant shoes left by regular captain Virat Kohli to play what could turn out to be a match - and even series-defining knock - on day two of the second Test.

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The 32-year-old's 12th Test century lifted the tourists to an 82-run first-innings lead at stumps, and he'll look to ram home that advantage when day three gets underway on Monday morning.

Leading his country for just the second time in Tests, Rahane's unbeaten 104 - the first century of the series - allowed India to move past Australia's total of 195 with relative ease.

Rahane rode his luck, with Australia putting him down twice - first on 73, and on the final ball of the day as rain stopped play with Travis Head dropping a simple chance.

India will resume on 5-277, with Rahane and allrounder Ravindra Jadeja (40 not out) to go about further punishing Australia's mistakes in the field while trying to level the Border-Gavaskar series at one-all.

The tourists were in a precarious position at 3-64 early on day two, before Rahane's remarkable innings gave India the upper hand on an MCG deck that had proven tricky for the batsmen.

England legend Michael Vaughan called it the greatest innings that he's seen Rahane play, with praise coming in from all over the world, including India's regular skipper.

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc lamented a number of opportunities the Aussies squandered to remove Rahane.

Rahane was dropped twice - first by Steve Smith on 73 and then by Travis Head moments before stumps - and nicked another ball through a vacant first slip, both off Starc's bowling.

"We should have got him out three, four, maybe five times before he got to 100 but he's run his luck there and scored a good hundred," Starc said.

Hosts rue missed chances on day two

Australia captain Tim Paine was left ruing his decision not to have a first-slip after lunch as Rahane edged a ball between the wicketkeeper and second slip that flew away to the boundary.

Starc, who earlier became the ninth Australian to take 250 Test wickets, should have had his third scalp of the match when he steamed in with the second new ball.

But with Rahane on 73, Smith inexplicably dropped a regulation catch in slips to continue a miserable match for the world's No.1 Test batsman.

To end a disastrous final session for Australia, the ball popped out of Head's hands as Starc was denied another wicket.

Seen here, Travis Head reacts in horror after dropping Rahane at the end of day two.
Travis Head dropped a regulation catch at the end of day two to give Rahane another lifeline. Pic: Getty

It is a remarkable turnaround in eight days, with India's bid to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy seemingly doomed following their record-low of 36 all-out at Adelaide Oval.

Combined with the fact, Kohli, one of the game's greatest batsmen, will take no further part in the series, India were barely given a hope heading to Melbourne.

India's four inclusions have all played major roles in the revival.

Jadeja's assured batting at No.7 has allowed stability down the order, while wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant (29 off 40 balls) played an entertaining cameo as he combined with Rahane for a vital 57-run fifth-wicket stand.

Debutant Gill survived two dropped catches, including one in the second over of the day off Josh Hazlewood's bowling, but captain Tim Paine did make up for the blunder behind the stumps.

Paine's catch to send Gill (45) packing was regulation, but his brilliant effort to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara two overs later will be replayed for the rest of the summer.

Australia's fast-bowling brigade of Cummins, Starc and Josh Hazlewood have toiled hard, but poor fielding has cost them dearly.

with AAP

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