IPL: Rahane tears apart an attack comprising Zaheer, Muralitharan and Vettori to score a 58-ball hundred

Ajinkya Rahane’s hundred exemplified that batting is not about ripping out the leather off the ball which was quite refreshing © PTI

On April 15, 2012 Ajinkya Rahane scored a 60-ball 103 against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. The highlight of the innings was Rahane’s immaculate timing and placement and his fearless approach. Sarang Bhalerao revisits Rahane’s fabulous knock.

The Rajasthan Royals dressing room was akin to a paid internship for this young batsman. The stipend did not matter. His hero, Rajasthan captain Rahul Dravid, was the Thesauras of batting for this domestic run machine. Yet, Ajinkya Rahane carved a niche for himself in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) by becoming the first centurion of the competition.

Rahane is not with propensity of commotions, neither does he have a tattoo neither does he have preferences for the earrings that will make him look “cool”. His mantra is simple: hit the ball from the middle of the bat and not gift away his wicket. Being from Mumbai helps Rahane with the khadoos attitude of batting.

He physique will make you wonder whether he will ever clear the boundary ropes. In an era where Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Yuvraj Singh have guffawed at the bowlers by reducing the significance of the boundary rope, Rahane’s old school batsmanship stood him in good stead in the shortest format of the game. At the Chinnaswamy Stadium his Houdini Act with the bat took the game away from Royal Challengers Bangalore with the blink of an eye.

And Rahane’s brilliance came against the likes of Zaheer Khan, Daniel Vettori and Mutthiah Muralitharan. He was unperturbed by the big names in the opposition camp. He clobbered Muralitharan for a six over long-on, yet, in a traditional fashion where he just extended his straight drive.

Upto the 13th over, the score was a modest 82 and Rahane was batting on 48. The 14th over exemplified his class. He faced six balls and he hit six fours, all better than the previous ones. Sreenath Aravind was the sufferer. Rahane smashed the first two deliveries straight past Aravind. The next one was scooped behind ‘keeper in what is now accepted as a conventional T20 shot. The elegant cover drive off the fifth showed his cricketing acumen and the affinity towards the orthodox shots. The sixth was a late-cut, which would have made Gundappa Viswanath proud.

When Muralitharan was effortlessly carted for a six over covers, the cricket pundits wondered if the talismanic off-spinner had ever been hit with consummate ease ever by any batsman at the international stage. The follow up shot was a boundary over Muralitharan’s head. Rahane’s foray was hurting Bangalore.

His partner, Owais Shah, plundered the Bangalore attack and reached his half century off only 19 deliveries. The last six overs [from over 14 to 19] had yielded 104 runs.

Rahane was batting on 93 at the start of the final over. He had already missed a hundred in Rajasthan’s opening encounter when he played an impetuous shot to get himself out against Punjab on 98. Rahane was determined on getting a hundred this time around. Two straight hits for boundaries saw him get to his hundred. The word belligerence is not something you associate with Rahane, yet he made pugnaciousness look beautiful.

Rajasthan posted 195 in their 20 overs. Rahane had scored 60-ball 103.

Bangalore lost wickets at regular intervals and could score only 136. The final catch was taken by Rahane. A 59-run win for Rajasthan earned them the top spot in the league.

It was a day when Rahane showed the world that batting is not about ripping out the leather off the ball. And that was something quite refreshing.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 195 for 2 in 20 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 103*) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 136 all-out in 19.5 overs (Mayank Agarwal 34; Siddharth Trivedi 4 for 25) by 59 runs.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)