Ajinkya Rahane's maiden Test century in the ongoing second Test against New Zealand is a crucial milestone in his fledgling Test career, feels his former coach Pravin Amre. (Rahane thanks Dravid, Sachin after maiden Test ton)
Amre is of the view that this maiden Test ton would act as the stepping stone and cement the youngster's Test spot after he has had a chequered beginning.
"He had to wait for 16 Tests (as a reserve) for his first Test appearance (against Australia at Delhi last year when he fell for 7 after a poor shot). He was then dropped and it was a difficult phase in his career," said Amre, who has guided Rahane since he was 17. (Rahane hits maiden Test ton)
The 25-year-old Rahane hit a superb 118 in only his fifth Test and also forged a century stand by weathering the second new ball in the company of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to help India take a big first innings lead over New Zealand. (Scorecard)
"He had to wait for his chance and he did very well in South Africa when he got it. To come off from that tour with a plus-60 average is great. And this century is extremely important for his career. He timed the ball exquisitely," said the former Mumbai-born cricketer who played for Railways in Ranji Trophy.
Amre, who made a fine hundred on Test debut in Durban in 1992, recalled how he had asked Rahane to undergo a short coaching stint before the latter got the golden chance to play in his maiden Test match against Australia.
It apparently worked as the youngster made a good half century for Mumbai (83) against Rest of India in the subsequent Irani Cup game but flopped by playing an extravagant shot in his first Test at Delhi and lost his spot in the next series against the West Indies.
"I saw that and said to myself it's not the Ajinkya I know. That was the time he needed some guidance. But I am a firm believer like my (Shardashram) coach (Ramakant) Achrekar sir in not changing a player's technique.
"He possesses fine technique and his basics are strong," said Amre under whom Rahane had practised for 14 days before leaving for South Africa and for an additional 10 days before departing for New Zealand.
Amre does not believe that there's a need to promote Rahane immediately by one rung from no. 6 to 5.
"That can come later. He will graduate. He's a very serious cricketer. The five years of domestic and India A grind has helped him even as he saw others overtaking him (by gaining Test status)," the former India A coach said.
"I gave him the example of Michael Hussey (of Australia who had to score tons of runs in domestic cricket before gaining Test berth when in his early 30s). I told him the Test cap is special and worth waiting for," said Amre, who himself had waited for ten Tests as a reserve before making his debut.
Amre is confident that his ward would excel in all the three formats of the game.
"He opens in T20s (IPL). He bats at no. 3 (in first class domestic cricket). He can open in ODIs too if needed," he said.
Amre was not critical about another talented Mumbai batsman Rohit Sharma who slammed two successive hundreds in his first two Test matches against the West Indies at home but has since then struggled to come up with big scores in South Africa and New Zealand.
"Rohit is a special talent. He is also a very smart cricketer. He knows which bowler to target and when. He has started off brilliantly with two Test hundreds and he has a double century in ODIs to his credit which is something special. But as a coach I always say there is room for improvement," he said.