Ian Chappell has lavished praise on Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane and stated that India are lucky to have both leaders in times when there are lesser proactive captains. He also added that India have fewer selection headaches than Aussies despite the return of Rohit and injury to Umesh.
In the absence of Virat Kohli the leader and the batsman, India were supposed to feel a major vacuum but that was not the case as they emerged victorious in the Boxing Day Test. Just like Rohit Sharma is there as a strong deputy to Virat Kohli in limited-overs cricket, Rahane proved himself to be more than handy as a stand-in-skipper as he led from the front in the second Test.
Rahane took terrific selection calls with all the players he picked for the MCG Test performing, made the right bowling changes, mixed caution with aggression to perfection, had the right field placements and also stood up with the bat making an unforgettable ton in Melbourne, to win over everyone in Australia and back home.
Renowned cricket expert Ian Chappell stated that India are lucky to have both Kohli and Rahane as captains as they are proactive, something which isn't there with captains in international cricket a lot.
"At a time when aggressive, proactive international captaincy is in short supply, India are fortunate to have two leaders who both understand the value of taking wickets over containing the opposition," Ian Chappell wrote in his column on ESPN Cricinfo.
He wasn't surprised at all to see Rahane put one right foot after another as India kept on turning the heat on the hosts.
"It was no surprise that Ajinkya Rahane captained India flawlessly at the MCG; anyone who saw him in charge in Dharamsala in 2017 would have recognised a man born to lead cricket teams. There were a lot of similarities between that 2017 match and the one at the MCG. Firstly it was between the same two highly competitive rivals, then there was the valuable first-innings lower-order contribution from Ravindra Jadeja, and finally Rahane aggressively accumulating the required runs in a nervy pursuit of a moderate victory total."
The former Aussie skipper termed Rahane as 'brave' and 'smart' and stated that he has won over his teammates with his imitable qualities.
"He's brave and smart. However, there's much more to his leadership than just those two important qualities. He is calm when things could easily get out of hand. He has earned the respect of his team-mates, one of the most important aspects of good captaincy. And he gets runs when they are needed, which adds to the respect his team has for him," he added.
India's win at the 'G' wouldn't have been possible if not for a team effort. Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin delivered crucial punches for India while debutantes Siraj and Gill also played as if experienced players, taking no time to adjust to the top-level. Chappell praised them all for putting in credible performances in a pressure-cooker Test.
"There was Jasprit Bumrah, excelling as usual at the MCG, ambushing batsmen regularly. R Ashwin, with his new-found confidence in Australian conditions, exerted his influence over Smith, a vital early wicket that further boosted India's confidence. Inspired by the seniors, the debutants, Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj, made significant contributions as they adjusted quickly to Australian conditions," he said.
With Rohit Sharma returning back to the side and injury to Umesh Yadav, India are likely to make two changes to their side for the SCG Test that starts from Jan. 7. Chappell, who played 75 Tests and 16 ODIs for Australia, further added that the hosts have more selection headaches than India and the series is far from over.
"This tantalising series is far from over. India still have concerns with yet another fast-bowling injury and an opening batsman in a quandary. However, despite coming off a disastrous collapse in Adelaide, along with the departure of their best batsman and the loss of two leading fast bowlers, India have fewer selection headaches than Australia. It's helpful that they have a strong, calm leader and a vibrant spirit that has built up under the Kohli-Rahane-Ravi Shastri coalition. If India do go on to repeat their last tour's success in Australia, the Mullagh medal won't be the only gong Rahane receives," Chappell concluded.