When Ajinkya Rahane gave Prithvi Shaw a stick on the field, R Sridhar recalls
The discarded veteran batter, who had a successful record as India's stand-in captain during Virat Kohli's leadership reign, called out his fellow Mumbaikar for shirking away from the fielding duties.
Sridhar revealed the episode in his book 'Coaching Beyond' and recounted the authoritarian side to Rahane the captain beneath his calm and composed demeanor.
The ex India fielding coach wrote Ajinkya Rahane was "not a weak character" by any means and had a voice that players had to listen to when they played for the Indian team under him.
Sridhar recounts Rahane calling out Shaw
The incident that Sridhar recalled is from a warm-up encounter played in Drummoyne in the build-up to the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
With regular skipper Kohli skipping the game, Rahane was in charge of the troops, perhaps practicing some of his leadership skills which were to come in really handy when Kohli was scheduled to leave the tour after the first Test on paternity leave.
"Make no mistake; Ajinkya was not a weak character," Sridhar writes in his book. "There was this incident when Prithvi Shaw was fielding at short leg in a warm-up game in Drummoyne, Sydney. The batter went for a sweep and Prithvi got smacked. 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'."
"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," he added.
As it panned out, Rahane led a once-in-a-generation fightback for India to clinch the historic Test series 2-1 on the tour despite going down heavily in the opening game in Adelaide.