Rahane became only the fifth Indian to score Test hundreds in both the innings of a match in Delhi. © AFP
Rahane became only the fifth Indian to score Test hundreds in both the innings of a match in Delhi. © AFP

It all started for Ajinkya Rahane at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, where he made his Test debut almost three years ago in March 2013. After warming the bench for the first three matches in the series, his chance finally came when Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out due to a head injury following a sensational debut in Mohali. His replacement, Gautam Gambhir, was diagnosed with jaundice and had to be kept out. Cheteshwar Pujara was pushed up to open batting, and the Mumbai run machine thus got the opportunity to make his Test debut after a long wait. He was lucky to get a chance, but his luck ran out soon. The youngster had a nervous start to his career, contributing just 7 and 1 in India’s win. Live Cricket Scorecard: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Delhi.

At that point it seemed unlikely that Rahane would play for India anytime soon. However, Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement allowed him to get another chance. After that disappointing debut, Rahane went all over the world and got runs, scoring centuries in almost every country India toured. In only his third Test at Durban against a strong South African attack that comprised of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, he scored 51 not out and 96. His performance in the Test confirmed he belonged to the highest level. After missing the maiden ton in Durban, he made up for it pretty soon by scoring 118 against New Zealand at Hamilton two Tests later. After another two Tests, the man got another hundred (103), this time at the home of cricket — Lord’s. READ: Virat Kohli-Ajinkya Rahane partnerships vs South Africa in Delhi Test a lesson for batsmen from both sides.

India next toured Australia. Rahane got two fifties in the first two Tests — 62 at Adelaide and 81 at Brisbane — before bringing up his third Test hundred at Melbourne. He scored a fluent 147 in the first innings and was involved in a thrilling partnership with Virat Kohli. In the lone innings of the one-off Test in Bangladesh that followed the Australia series Rahane continued his good run and scored a sparkling 98. Then came the tour to Sri Lanka, where his batting position was shuffled for the first time. READ: Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round show vs South Africa in Freedom Series 2015 should put to rest the all-rounder debate.

After doing so well at the No. 5 spot in overseas conditions, he was asked to bat at No. 3 in the second and third Tests. The new Mr Adaptable of Indian cricket took no time in adjusting to the situation and crafted a fine hundred (126) in the second Test at Colombo. Rahane came out of the series with his reputation further enhanced. By the time the Test series against South Africa arrived, Rahane was an integral part of India’s Test set-up. The first Test against South Africa in Mohali was his second home Test after playing his first home Test over two and a half years prior. READ: Amit Mishra could have made a huge difference in India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Delhi.

He had failed in two of the first three Tests, with the second match at Bengaluru being washed out. All of a sudden, there were surprising, rather shocking talks about his jinxed home record. All of this was unfair to a man who had scored in the most testing of conditions across the globe. He was being judged at home on the basis of just three Tests spanning almost three years. But he finally put all the unfair talk about his ‘jinx’ to rest by scoring 127 and 100 not out in the fourth Test at Delhi. In the process, he became only the fifth Indian after Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar ( who did it three times), Rahul Dravid (who did it twice), and Virat Kohli to score hundreds in both the innings of a Test. READ: 5 deserving batsmen who could replace Rohit Sharma in India’s Test team.

He did not break the jinx, but he was finally home; the twin-tons were a sweet moment of homecoming for the youngster. What better place for it than the very ground on which he made his debut. Averaging close to 45 after 21 Tests, the youngster has already shown enough promise for the future. With Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Kohli, he forms the crux of the Indian Test batting line-up. After proving himself as an asset while travelling abroad and now scoring at home too, Rahane will perhaps prepare himself for unconquered frontiers — a permanent berth in the limited-overs team.

 (A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)