Indore Test: Ice-cool Rahane matches fiery Kohli as India march ahead of NZ | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Indore Test: Ice-cool Rahane matches fiery Kohli as India march ahead of NZ

If Kohli lets his aggressive attitude reflect in the expansive strokes he plays, Rahane, though no less rounded a batsman, appears limited in comparison, though he is not shy of flirting with risks for the sake of his team.

cricket Updated: Oct 09, 2016 16:35 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Rahane and Kohli’s partnership of 365 is now India’s highest for the fourth wicket.
Rahane and Kohli’s partnership of 365 is now India’s highest for the fourth wicket.(PTI)

Virat Kohli, the double centurion of the Indore Test, and Ajinkya Rahane, who missed his maiden double ton by merely 12 runs, are as dissimilar to each other as ice is to boiling water. No two cricketers can be as different as they are in their public persona, demeanour, approach to batting and their attitude to life.

On the second day of this final Test of the series, the two continued to flourish, striking blow after blow, scoring more and more until they buried the New Zealanders in a mound of runs the Kiwis will surely find impossible to shrug off.

Kohli, despite the admirable mask of restraint he wears these days, does not mince his words, expressing what he feels and thinks, even at the risk of appearing brash and at times even offensive. Ever since he has become the captain of the Indian side, he is maturing into a more pragmatic person, not letting his emotions run riot and not crossing the line that separates gamesmanship from being repugnant.

For a young man who graduated to the top echelons of cricket step by step and overcame many shortcomings, be it of temperament or technical deficiencies, to be considered as a potential all-time great of the game, is a major triumph. It is a testimony to his commitment, be it to his craft or the team ethics, which is reflected in his phenomenal appetite for learning and correcting flaws.

One does not know of too many examples of a cricketer who has disciplined himself in the process of an unfinished journey, one that may someday see him scaling a summit few may have reached.

Rahane, in comparison, is modesty personified. When he scores runs, which is quite often and that too in very adverse circumstances, he appears almost apologetic, as if feeling sorry for the bowlers whom he has treated harshly.

He rarely sledges, doesn’t believe that celebrations require too many physical contortions for it to be noticed and had to serve a long period of apprenticeship before becoming a permanent part of this Indian team.

If Kohli lets his aggressive attitude reflect in the expansive strokes he plays, Rahane, though no less rounded a batsman, appears limited in comparison, though he is not shy of flirting with risks for the sake of his team. It was the pursuit of quick runs that led to Rahane’s fall, when a double hundred was his for the taking. A team man if ever there was one.

Read | Captain Kohli mastering adaptability, breaking new ground with Rahane

The two, like in their marathon innings on Sunday, are a perfect foil to each other. The skipper is a stylist, who leads from the front. His deputy, a man with a steely resolve, is understated, but no less effective.

Kohli, for all his image of being a dasher and having strokes of graceful quality, also relies on building his innings on the strength of his super fitness. This allows him to race for singles and two’s where other batsmen would prefer relaxing if in the midst of a big innings.

It is Rahane who, surprisingly, scores over Kohli in that department, suddenly unleashing those big hits – he hit four sixes -- that clear the outfield. Kohli prefers the more conventional and safe methods, rarely taking the aerial route to swell his score.

The two, like they have done in the past, built another formidable partnership, which had a bit of everything: Discipline, aggression, orthodox strokes, innovation and a sense of purpose, that saw India reach a score from where they can win this match even by an innings.