Ricky Ponting has praised Ajinkya Rahane’s leadership skills following India’s embarrassing defeat in Adelaide but insists the full-time job belongs to Virat Kohli for as long as he wants it.
Rahane received widespread acclaim for his captaincy as India responded to their eight-wicket defeat in the series opener by bowling Australia out for 195 on day one of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
The 32-year-old, leading the side in the absence of Kohli, then helped India build an 82-run lead over Australia by scoring his 12th Test century.
‘I think he’s done a great job to pick up the pieces from Adelaide with this team, lead really well in the field yesterday and you can see he’s playing like a captain now as well,’ former Australia captain Ponting said of Rahane.
‘He wants to play that captain’s knock; he wants to get a hundred in Virat’s absence and do the best thing he can to try and drag his country and his team back into this series.’
Ponting added to cricket.com.au: ‘He’s almost played a [Cheteshwar] Pujara-like innings.
‘No thrills, he’s hit very few boundaries but he’s just continually backing his defence and trying to wear the Australian bowlers down.
‘I think the Australians haven’t made him cover drive enough. I think they’ve been a little bit short and they’ve plugged that cover region.
‘That nick that we saw that went between Paine and Smith, I think that could have been covered with another slip in place and leave the cover area open.’
But despite Rahane impressing in Melbourne, Ponting cannot see the India captaincy changing hands any time soon.
He said: ‘Virat will be captain of India as long as he wants to, but if he thinks standing down is going to make him an even better player, then that’s a scary thing for world cricket.
‘I’m not doubting Kohli’s captaincy skills or credentials at all, I’m just saying it’s going to take something special to pick up the pieces and Rahane’s been able to do that so far.
‘I don’t think there’ll be pressure from anywhere else for Kohli to do that but let’s wait and see.’
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