Ajinkya Rahane served as the captain of the Indian Test team in six games from 2017 to 2021, alongside his role as the vice-captain under Virat Kohli’s tenure. He led the team in Dharmashala against the Aussies in 2017 in Kohli’s absence and helped India reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. At the same time, he also led India during India's arguably greatest-ever Test series victory during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21.
Speaking about Rahane’s captaincy style in his book 'Coaching Beyond', former India fielding coach R Sridhar has revealed an incident involving the veteran cricketer. It also included Indian youngster, Prithvi Shaw, while India was playing a warm-up match ahead of the 2020-21 Border Gavaskar Trophy. The incident took place when Prithvi got smacked while fielding at short-leg and wanted to go off the field.
“As he tried to limp off the park towards the dressing room, Ajinkya was quickly on his case. From his position at slip, he had clearly seen exactly where Prithvi had been hit, which was on the shin pad. Rahane went up to him and said firmly, 'Don't take one more step. No one will replace you on the field. I know nothing's wrong with you, I saw the ball hit you on your shin pad. Maybe you were waiting for an opportunity to go back inside, but that's not happening. Go back to short leg and get into position',’ Sridhar wrote in his book.
“Prithvi knew his bluff had been called and subtly, Ajinkya had told the rest that he would brook no shenanigans. I was mightily relieved as I was the one slated to go in as substitute as we had only XI for that game,” the coach added. During his time in the leadership group of India in Test cricket, Ajinkya Rahane was known for not being aggressive like Kohli, but was also not known for being cool as MS Dhoni.
The cricketer struck a perfect balance of aggression and composure, leading India to four wins and two draws under his captaincy. Although he never became the full-time captain of India, he has a winning percentage of 66.66 as the captain. “Ajinkya can be firm when he has to be without being harsh, which is why India have such a good record under him,” Sridhar further said.
“He has led the team in four Tests against Australia and India have won three of them, including two away from home. That's a fantastic record for someone who doesn't get to captain often, or in a string of games. He understands the game very well. He is very easy-going and approachable, and I got the sense that the senior players feel a greater sense of responsibility when he is the captain; they start chipping in more,” the former India fielding coach added.