‘Magnificent Knock to Watch From Outside’: Gill in Awe of Stand-in Captain Rahane’s Boxing Day Hundred
Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja touch gloves on day 2 of the Boxing Day Test at MCG©BCCI

Young India batsman Shubman Gill says watching Ajinkya Rahane’s ‘magnificent hundred’ from the sidelines was immensely educative for him. Leading from the front, Rahane played with aplomb and showed immense grit to tackle a high-quality pace attack in the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the MCG. He scored one of the most memorable hundreds to put India in a dominant position on day 2 of the second Test. Gill admired the way Rahane took the sting out of the Australian pace attack and waited patiently for scoring opportunities.

Stand-in skipper Rahane scored an unbeaten 104 in tough conditions to steer India to 277/5 against Australia in Melbourne on day two. India were in a tricky situation at 64 for 3 after losing Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara in quick succession. The Australian pacers were threatening to run through India’s batting line-up once again. However, Rahane’s hundred ensured that the visitors ended day two in a commanding position.

“This knock was all about patience, more importantly when you are playing such a high-quality pace attack, sometimes you get into a shell and not able to score runs, and the way Ajinkya bhai played, it was such a magnificent knock to watch from outside,” Gill said during a virtual press conference.

“How to see off those tough periods, he made it sure that he put the loose balls away.”

With Rahane going strong, India took a lead of 82 runs and Gill said the team will look to capitalize on it as batting will get more challenging from day three. “On the first day, there was a bit turn for Ashwin bhai and Jaddu bhai and even today we saw there was turn for Nathan Lyon and as the time goes on there will be more cracks and it will be more challenging for the batsmen.

“So it is important to capitalise on this lead that we have and get them all out as quickly as possible.”

Opening the innings, Gill scored a 65-ball 45 on debut before he nicked an outswinger from Pat Cummins. “When I came into bat, there was something in the pitch, it was lively but the only thing I told myself was that no matter what was in pitch, I should be able to play my game,” the 21-year-old said.

“… I should be able to give my team a start as an opener, that was the ideal situation and that was my hope.

“Overall I wanted to play with intent and build partnership which I did to some extent but I am not satisfied the way I got out, it was last ball of Cummins’ spell and it was a loose shot.”

Gill said facing a high-quality Indian attack at the nets while being with the team was a confidence booster and it put him at ease when he faced the first ball of his Test career.

“I have been travelling with the team for the last 4-5 Test series, it has helped me a lot,” said the Punjab batsman.

“I have been able to settle in the team and to be able to play someone like Bumrah or Mohammed Shami bhai or Umesh bhai at the nets, it is a huge confidence booster for a youngster. And when I went into bat today I didn’t feel like I am in a whole new place.”

Asked if he sees himself as an opener in the Indian team, Gill said: “I don’t have any certain plan, where ever team wants me to bat, I am happy to bat.”