The Ganguly hand in Eden green top
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Ajinkya Rahane continued the tradition of Mumbai producing fine, compact, top-order batsmen, with a coming of age season in which he scored Test centuries in New Zealand, England, Australia, and a 96 in South Africa. Rahane’s first innings of note came when he hit 172 in the 2007-08 Duleep Trophy against an England Lions attack consisting of Monty Panesar, Steve Kirby and Liam Plunkett. He went on to amass a whopping 1089 runs in the next Ranji season – only his second – and helped Mumbai win their 38th title. He continued his good form in the following seasons and was included in the squad for the Emerging Players Tournament in Australia in 2011. Two centuries there earned him a call-up to the Indian Twenty20 and ODI squads in the England tour as a replacement for the injured Virender Sehwag. His uninhibited strokeplay came as a revelation and though he didn’t always get big scores, he did enough to show that he belonged at the international level. As it turned out, the time on the bench thereafter didn’t hurt his appetite for runs: in IPL 2012 he became the first Rajasthan Royals batsman to hit a century and the recent Test success led MS Dhoni to compare Rahane’s role in the side with that of VVS Laxman.