Home > Features >

Ajinkya Rahane enters Lord’s honours board with ton against England in 2nd Test

Ajinkya Rahane scored his second Test century © Getty Images
Ajinkya Rahane scored his second Test century © Getty Images

Ajinkya Rahane stood alone, sculpting a milestone of rare class while all around him wickets fell like a pack of cards. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at one of the most memorable hundreds at Lord’s.

A hundred at Lord’s is always special.

The ground carries with it the emblem of the home of cricket, Old Father Time watches from the top of the Mound Stand. The picturesque pavilion building looks on, with members in their blazers and MCC ties. The space age JP Morgan Media Centre is an anachronism, but the rest of the arena oozes all that is pure and traditional about cricket. Even the infamous slope has an ageless appeal, a throwback to those days when grounds were not chiselled to perfection, man was still a slave of the inconsistencies of nature and landscape.

Dilip Vengsarkar, three times centurion at the Mecca of Cricket, once wrote that on his first visit to the stadium, he just wanted to go out there and score one run. Just one.

And in this ancient venue, Ajinkya Rahane’s innings sparkled like a precious gem as India’s innings fell around him in a scatter of debris. It was a knock fit for this grandest stage, etched with élan to pay homage to the purity of the turf, to stand tall in front of Father Time who has witnessed the greatest of them for many many years now.

It was composed, it was compact, it was classy. And it was chanceless. The wickets fell like ninepins; the innings was one blow away from disintegrating. The Mumbai batsman stood through it all, with hardly an expression of concern in his visage or willow. The bat remained straight, the face displayed to the bowler without any compromise in favour of a closed blade. The leaves were based on soundest judgement. The extravagant swing was negotiated with a degree of expertise rare in cricket, unique in the Indian team. The drives were all timing, the cuts essayed with elegance.

When Liam Plunkett bounced with many men on the fence from square leg to long leg, he threaded the gaps with nonchalance and languid grace. When James Anderson pitched up with the No 10 batting at the other end, the willow was brought down straight, the follow through was full and rich, the ball’s flight was high and soaring, ending beyond the boundary just in front of the members who sat in rapt delight. Even when pulls were essayed while eyeing the boundary, caution thrown to the wind, the balance hung in favour of finesse rather than force.

One passage of play bore the essence of his batsmanship. Stuart Broad ran in after tea, one man stationed at mid-off. Twice the ball was over-pitched and twice the drive rang out. Twice the strokes went straight to mid-off. Broad, worried by the timing and pedigree, pleaded with his captain for a man in cover.  Alastair Cook relented. In ran Broad again, and pitched it up. Rahane’s bat flowed with flourish, the two men at cover and mid-off bisected with mathematical precision, and the ball raced away down the slope. It needed an additional impetus of challenge to inject an element of mastery into the brilliance. The same was the story of the innings, a rescue act scripted with patience, poise and panache in the face of the most demanding of crises.

It was with the new ball that Anderson ran in when Rahane burst into that explosive spree of stroke-play. He pulled twice, lofted the paceman over his head, and in the end reached his hundred with a backfoot drive through the covers. The bat was straight as ever as he held the stroke, before it reached for the sky. The helmet came off and Lord’s stood up to him. The silence of the JP Morgan press box, thus far punctuated by the occasional appreciation of some of the most delightful of his strokes, was broken as claps were heard in unison.

It was a knock that won the ground over.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

West Indies tour of India 2014, Practice match

Oct 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Mumbai

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Brisbane

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Barbados won by 6 wkts (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Perth Scorchers won by 3 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 29, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 36 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

Photos

Barbados Tridents vs Hobart Hurricanes, CLT20 2014

Videos

Arjuna Ranatunga shares his views on U-19 cricket

Jasprit Bumrah: Sachin Tendulkar giving me my debut cap was my most memorable moment with Mumbai Indians

Sachin Tendulkar fans turn Durga Puja pandal into cricket stadium

Pakistan players would be allowed in IPL soon, hopes Shahryar Khan

Nawaz Sharif’s only First-Class appearance

Ernie Jones — the man who sent a ball through the beard of WG Grace

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Barbados Tridents Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Dolphins India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab KKR vs Dolphins Kolkata Knight Riders

High Court forms selection committees for Rajasthan cricketers

Rohit Sharma ruled out of India-West Indies ODI series

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should appoint Virat Kohli as Test captain: Mohammad Azharuddin

CLT20 2014: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will look to maintain consistency against Chennai Super Kings says George Bailey

Kolkata Knight Riders coach Trevor Bayliss surprised at Sunil Narine’s action being reported

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-final, CLT20 2014: KKR Likely XI

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-Final, CLT20 2014 – Key battles

CLT20 2014: Players who impressed in the league stage

Jasprit Bumrah: Sachin Tendulkar giving me my debut cap was my most memorable moment with Mumbai Indians

CLT20 2014: Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers, Match 19, Highlights

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

671 Posts | 6 Fans

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab- Final Match Highlights from IPL 2014

6 changes that take place in your breasts during pregnancy

How to Revive Old Trends and Fall in Love With Your Clothes — Again

NGOs pursue education for all

5 BB Creams for Darker Skin Types

Leaked: Mrunal Jain goes semi nude – view pic!

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-Final, CLT20 2014 – Key battles

Alia Bhatt goofs-up again, unaware of Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan’s resignation!

Why a steady heartbeat is bad for you

Windows 10 Technical Preview now available, here’s how to download it

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-final, CLT20 2014: KKR Likely XI

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here