Pacers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins tried tormenting India's frontline batsmen for five overs at the end of the day. However, debutant Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara bravely withstood the onslaught.
India's hurting fans, unable to digest that historic Adelaide second innings slide of 36, wouldn't have taken another poor day from their team gentlemanly.
Instead, Rahane with his stand-in captaincy and bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandra Ashwin and another debutant Mohammed Siraj more than convinced fans that the Adelaide collapse was indeed an aberration and we need to move on optimistically.
The session that unfolded on Day One at the MCG after Australia chose to bat contained most of the spicy ingredients a riveting Test match needs to have. Rahane's strategy of blunting the off side and having a leg gully for his pacers and Ashwin could have been successful only when the bowlers implemented the plan with their deliveries. "Obviously today, they came out with a heavy leg-side field and bowled very straight and didn't give us any scoring options to the off side," Cricbuzz quoted Australia's top scorer Marnus Labuschagne saying.
CricketNext quoted former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting summarising Rahane's leadership on the day: "Rahane's field placements, bowling changes have all been pretty much spot on. With captaincy, making bowling changes and changing the field, you need guys to be able to execute well. Some of the wickets they got today, even Smith at leg slip early on, I think that was a set plan."
It is known that most Test captains strategise before the match with help from the team thinktank. However, when the team steps on the field, the captain is solely responsible to steer the ship successfully.
On Boxing Day, Rahane showed exemplary captaincy skills.
However, he initially has the next four days followed by two more Tests to help India win this series. If he succeeds, he'll unintentionally force a debate for a separate or specialist captain for Tests.
Rahane's shrewd tactics were matched by Bumrah, Ashwin and Siraj. These three bowlers combined their unique skills with the bounce, swing and turn the MCG pitch offered to restrict Australia to 195 in their first innings.
Gill then rounded off India's appreciable performance during the day with his disciplined batting on debut. As a fan, you only pray that Gill is allowed to continue with the way he played Starc, Cummins and Nathan Lyon on Day One.
Any advise from the batting coach or the head coach must wait after his innings ends. The way he negotiated Australia's top bowlers indicate he's destined for a big score on Sunday, Day Two.