Ajinkya Rahane remained unbeaten at 89 after day 1 at Delhi against South Africa © AFP
Ajinkya Rahane remained unbeaten at 89 after day 1 at Delhi against South Africa © AFP

Over the past few days amidst the ‘pitch-talks’, a lot of pundits have called for a healthy competition between the bat and ball. They maybe a happy lot now as despite the variable bounce on offer at Kotla track, there was healthy competition on offer. The Day One of Delhi Test between India and South Africa certainly witnessed a seesaw ride as India lost a wicket each in the first and third session, while they lost five in the second. Two men who had grabbed no headlines since the Test series began stole it for their respective sides. Scorecard: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Delhi

While Anjikya Rahane’s 89 not out ensured India 231 for 7 (the highest team total in the ongoing series) at end of the day, Dane Piedt, playing his first game of the tour, chipped in with four wickets as India were reeling at 139 for 6 at Tea. Full cricket updates: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Delhi

In March 2013, at the same venue, Rahane made his Test debut against Australia and since then till today, he had scored 47 runs at 7.83 in matches played at home. Surprising because Rahane has been one of the most prolific batsmen in Indian domestic circuit. For a batsman who has four Test hundreds to his name and is tipped to be a future batting great, those numbers painted a terrible picture. Jinks, as he is fondly called, finally broke the jinx as he crafted his maiden Test fifty in India. And it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. A circle completes for him at Kotla. READ: Ajinkya Rahane guides India to 231-7 at stumps vs South Africa in 4th Test, Day 1 at Delhi

Rahane has often given impression of being in a hurry and throwing his wicket away in order to score at a brisk pace. He started the innings similarly. Captain Virat Kohli looked in a sublime touch and got the scoreboard moving after the fall of Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara. Rahane was 30 from 42 balls when Kohli fell. And after the flurry of wickets in the second session, Rahane dropped the anchor and played straighter. The maturity he showed was terrific and something expected of him. Unlike Rohit Sharma, who threw his wicket away at a critical juncture, Rahane put a price tag on his wicket, played the balls on merit and scored off every lose deliveries. He changed gears at will and that’s a hallmark of a very good batsman. There was never a doubt about his calibre but with rising inconsistency, it was a matter of time he showcased it. READ: Ajinkya Rahane scores maiden fifty in India in 4th Test, Day 1 vs South Africa at Delhi

The knock no doubt had the usual Rahane fluidity as he struck nine boundaries and two sixes. The scoring shots were no doubt a treat to eyes but he curbed his instincts and showed intent to spend more time at the wicket. Flashy and overtly aggressive in the past, such maturity is expected more often. The 27-year-old Mumbai batsman did have his fortunes favouring him. He could have well been Piedt’s fifth wicket, had Hashim Amla pouched the sitter at slip when the batsman was on 78.

Rahane, who averaged under 10 in the series, prior to start of this innings, now has notched up the highest individual score in the series and may well get the first hundred too. He will see similar numbers numerous times in his career but this is one he will cherish for a long time. Not only he bailed India out from a difficult situation to a possible match-winning score but also proved himself as a batsman in home conditions.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)