Ajinkya Rahane has laughed off the run-out that cost him an even bigger total in a knock described by India legend Sunil Gavaskar as one of the most important innings in the nation’s cricket history.
Rahane reached 112 against Australia early on day three at the MCG when Ravindra Jadeja took off for a quick single and left his stand-in captain short as Marnus Labuschagne produced a sharp piece of fielding.
After the review, Rahane patted Jadeja on the back and offered a word of advice, urging the allrounder to move on as India hunt a series-levelling victory.
It worked, with Jadeja going on to make 57 before taking 2-25 as the tourists restricted Australia to 6-133 for an overall lead of just two runs with two days to play.
Rahane’s calm and understanding might have had something to do with knowing what Jadeja was feeling, with the 32-year-old having been guilty of a similar offence in Adelaide when he accidentally ran out Virat Kohli.
“Initially I thought I was in, but when I saw I was just short I told him, ‘don’t worry about it, just back yourself as a batsman’,” Rahane told Fox Sports.
“His contribution was really important and he batted really well.
“The message was just to not think about my run-out and keep carrying on.”
India were skittled for 36 their second innings in Adelaide, leading to an eight-wicket defeat, and have lost Kohli for the rest of the series after the brilliant captain returned home to be with his partner for the birth of their child.
It is against that backdrop that Gavaskar made his bold statement about the significance of Rahane’s innings.
But the classy right-hander was dropped twice by Australian fielders and doesn’t rate his 12th Test century as the best performance of his career.
“It feels really special, especially when captaining the side,” Rahane said.
“Getting a hundred is always special, but my best knock, I feel, is still at Lord’s when I got 103 (in 2014).”
Rahane has relished taking on the added responsibility of leading the side in Kohli’s absence and has been widely praised for his work as captain, both with the bat and in the field.
“It’s all about backing your instincts; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Rahane said.
“I feel you’ve got to back your gut feel and go with it.
“I thought our bowlers bowled really well and bowled in the right areas.”
India are well placed to level the series in Melbourne, but won’t get ahead of themselves.
“We’ve still got four wickets to go, the game is not over yet,” Rahane said.
“We have to come stronger tomorrow, bowl in the right areas and get the victory.”