(Reuters) - Ajinkya Rahane announced his return to form in Monday's Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Royal Challengers Bangalore and India captain Virat Kohli will be happy with the timing, despite being at the receiving end in Abu Dhabi.
Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting had said before the start of the tournament that Rahane, more of a timer than a slogger, was not "an automatic choice" for the side chasing their first IPL title.
Rahane sat out Delhi's first six matches and when opportunities finally came he could not immediately grab them, managing only 51 runs in his first five outings.
However, back at number three after struggling as an opener, Rahane scored a fluent 60 off 46 balls in their six-wicket win against Kohli's Bangalore.
"Ricky told me when we came here that I would bat number three. It's a good number to bat on," said Rahane, who will be Kohli's deputy in India's four-test series in Australia beginning on Dec. 17.
"It was disappointing to get out. I wanted to finish the game. We know how funny this game is, but in the end good to win this game and qualify."
Despite the defeat, Bangalore joined defending champions Mumbai Indians and Delhi in the playoff.
Delhi captain Shreyas Iyer, who vacated the number three position for Rahane, said the 32-year-old was very much in their playoff scheme.
"He carries a lot of experience in the IPL and the way he paced his innings, it was amazing to see," Iyer said.
"The loose balls he punished, other than that he was taking singles and twos. It was a great example and I think he peaked at the right time, just when we needed him.
"With a few important matches coming up, he will definitely play an important role in them."
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Richard Pullin)