Ajinkya Rahane brought calmness in the dressing room in the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said on Tuesday after India recorded an epic series-levelling win in the second Test in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Shot out for a record low score of 36 in their second innings in the lost pink-ball Test at Adelaide, India came into the blockbuster MCG Test with Kohli who is on paternity leave.
But the team under Rahane showed resilience to bounce back, effecting an extraordinary turnaround to level the four-match series 1-1.
"Getting bowled out for 36 was never going to be easy. We are quite a proud cricketing country and losing Virat was a bit of a setback," the star-off-spinner told 7 cricket.
"...but we stuck on really well. Jinks' calmness in the dressing room really provided us that stability to go out there and express ourselves in this game."
Down 0-1, India received further setback after fiery pacer Mohammed Shami was ruled out because of a fracture to his bowling arm.
But Rahane's bold captaincy stood out from day one itself when he pressed in Ashwin in the 11th over with the ball still new, possibly to use the off-spinner's psychological upper hand over the Aussies batters in the pink ball Test.
It turned out to be a tactical masterstroke from Rahane as Ashwin dismissed Matthew Wade and India's 'nemesis' Steve Smith for a second consecutive time in his first spell as Australia were bundled out for 195 in their first innings.
"Coming down to Australia and if you cannot get Steven Smith out, it is always going to be an uphill task," the 34-year-old said about Smith's dismissal.
"To get him out early is something that we have always worked on. We put together plans and when those plans come together, it is a pleasure," Ashwin, who returned with a match-haul of five wickets, said.
Skipper Rahane, who was adjudged Player of the Match, also led by example by scoring a century that gave India a cushion of 131-run first innings lead.
"Jinks, Puji and Jassi, we have got a great bonding inside the team," Ashwin said.
India wrapped up Australia's second innings for 200 in the extended opening session to set themselves an easy 70-run target that the tourists chased down easily.