India's Rahane learns virtue of patience versus South Africa

NEW DELHI: India's Ajinkya Rahane returned to pavilion with the first century of the series under his belt and a lesson in patience after five painstaking hours in the middle taking everything the South Africa bowlers hurled at him.

A diligent accumulator in a lineup teeming with flamboyant swashbucklers, the 27-year-old compiled a masterly century before bursting into an uncharacteristically animated celebration at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium on Friday.

For someone who went into the match with scores of 15, 2, 13 and 9 in his last four test innings, it was as much relief as elation when he swung the bat and raised his arms looking skywards.

His sparkling 127, which powered India to a series-high 334, was also a reward for his tremendous patience and unflinching focus on a low track where South Africa folded for 121.

"In the first two test matches, I was looking to play shots early, that's why I got out," India's number five told reporters.

"In the nets, I was talking to (batting coach Sanjay Bangar) and (team director) Ravi Shastri. They told me, 'You just have to take your time initially. If you are set, if you are 25-30, your instinct will take over'.

"That's what I did. When I was batting, I wanted to stay blank and play one ball at a time and build a partnership."

In the end, it all boiled down to hanging on in the middle, Rahane said.

"As a batsman, I felt that (I should be) spending time in the middle, taking my time and playing just normal cricket, rather than look to play some attacking shots."

The turnaround had more to do with mindset than technique, said the soft-spoken player who has also emerged as a brilliant slip fielder.

"I felt that (I should be) playing close to my body here. I was slightly hurrying (with my shots) and I was looking to play shots straightaway in the last two test matches.

"Here I just wanted to take my time and play as close to my body as possible and wait for loose deliveries. Patience was the key."