It was in Delhi earlier this year, against Australia, that Ajinkya Rahane was shaken up by a short one. His technique was questioned and he didn’t impress enough to be termed one for the future.
Over the past few months, his technique against the short ball hasn’t improved drastically, but what he has shown to merit a place in the India side is temperament. In the first Test, he showed patience and at Kingsmead, he gritted his teeth, took a couple of blows from Dale Steyn — on the helmet and arm, and helped India make 334, despite Steyn triggering a collapse.
‘Jinks’ as he is fondly called by his captain, Rahane stitched two crucial partnerships, first with Virat Kohli and then with MS Dhoni, remaining unbeaten even as wickets fell around him.
A lot of people had been praying for respite. However, the showers came at the wrong time, not only for the India batsmen, whose concentration was broken by the bad light last evening, but also for the fans expected to throng on Friday.
The rain washed out the morning session, but on resumption, in front of near-empty stands, Steyn couldn’t garner the decibel levels that were expected.
The ball was doing a bit and Steyn dropped it on the spot for the first time in the series. Suddenly, the space between leaving and playing the ball became minuscule and the India batsmen looked a bit edgy.
Both the set batsmen, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, had thick edges flying off their bats for four, but it still seemed as if the South African impetus would die down. However, it didn’t. Pujara was caught behind on the drive, an over later Vijay was caught behind down the leg side and off the next ball, Rohit Sharma left a delivery that was always hitting the stumps.
Vijay fell three short of his hundred and it was clear that India were in for a hard time at 199/4.
While Rohit is one of the few Indians to let his reputation slip, Virat has excelled in hitting back at critics. With his ability to face short-pitched deliveries questioned, Virat has executed the pulls quite willingly.
While ‘Jinks’ was taking blows, Virat was latching on to anything short and ensuring that the possible collapse wouldn’t happen. The two put on 66 before Virat was caught down the leg-side.
Dhoni looked determined and after putting on another half-century partnership, edged one to give Jacques Kallis his 200th Test catch. The tail was wiped out and soon the Proteas were gnawing away at India’s total with ease.