Updated: December 26, 2020 6:32:14 pm
As India wins Boxing Day Courses at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy stood out. From the way he used Ravichandran Ashwin to the so-called long-standing mantras for a team huddle, peace on the field and bowlers, his leadership style was completely different from that of Virat Kohli.
Aswin as the first change
Rahane introduced Aswin in the 11th over. Despite having a left-handed player in the folds, it was a brave decision and the ball was still fresh. With Ashwin throwing the ball comfortably with the new ball and Rahane bringing in the off-spinner, he wanted to use the moisture on the surface. Also, after a fantastic tour of Adelaide, Aswin is psychologically superior to the Australian batsmen.
Rahane’s decision turned out to be a tactical master stroke. Aswin got Matthew Wade and Steve Smith in his first spell.
Compare this with the way Ashwin Kohli handled Adelaide. Offi was the fourth bowler to bowl in the first inning, in which he took 4/55. Second, he was brought under attack in the 12th over, but Kohli does not typically use Ashwin in the lead in Test matches outside the subcontinent.
Huddle with difference
On Saturday, when the Indian players entered the field at the start of a session and assembled the team huddle, it turned out a little differently. Huddle still had a lot of voices. After Rahane’s short speech, he addressed the animated Aswin team. The Indian team huddles under Kohli are one dimensional, often with the captain as the keynote speaker.
Rahane started with five overs by Zahrid Bumra and six overs by Umesh Yadav. Later, Bumra was brought back for another three overs spell. Meanwhile, Aswin got 12 overs in his first spell. Siraj was given six in his first spell. Kohli, by contrast, writes short spells for bowlers – sometimes even an over – especially when the wickets are not falling.
Tim Payne missed the lowest run-out call – a throw by Umesh Yadav at the end of the striker – in the last ball of the 55th over. Whether his bat crossed the batting folds or was in line was below the TV referee’s explanation. The restarts were endless and it was announced that the Australia captain was not out. It could have been a very important wicket during a crucial turn when Payne scored 73 in the first innings in Adelaide. Even Shane Warne did not believe the decision of the third referee. “It’s so amazing that Tim Payne escaped that run-out review! I kept him on his bike & thought there was no part of his bat behind the line! It should have been in my opinion,” he tweeted. Not allowing the team to grow.Choice is likely to be behaving very differently.