The talent was always there, yet Ajinkya Rahane took time to cement his place in the India team across formats. During his debut in 2011 in England, Rahane was among runs but the hundreds eluded him. The breakthrough came during the 2012 IPL, where he got runs in heaps.
Cut to 2016, the Mumbai batsman has established himself across formats. His career-best 188 in trying conditions on the dual-paced wicket in the Indore Test buttressed his reputation. With the focus shifting to the five-match ODI series against New Zealand starting on Sunday, Rahane will be in the spotlight as an opener.
An agile fielder with uncompromising work ethics, runs have come easily from Rahane’s bat. With India testing fringe and new players in the ODI series, Rahane said it was important the team started afresh and carried forward the good work from the Tests.
“I am looking forward to the ODI series. The key will be the momentum and winning the first match is important,” said the 28-year-old, before heading for an extensive training session with teammates.
Rahane, who amassed 347 runs in the Test series, said mental adjustment was needed while switching formats.
“As a professional cricketer it’s important to adjust to every format and the conditions. We are tuned in and have the experience. I don’t think too much into getting into ODIs, Tests or T20s. It’s about how you deal with a situation or factor. I will stick to my strengths,” he said.
India have drafted in greenhorn batsman Mandeep Singh and spinner Jayant Yadav, while Hardik Pandya and Manish Pandey are staging comebacks. With Suresh Raina ruled out of the first ODI, Rahane said the new faces were coming in after creditable performances for India ‘A’ and in domestic cricket.
“With new guys coming in, it’s energising. It’s all about giving newcomers the confidence and opportunity to do well at the highest level and that’s what we want. Discipline will be the key. During the Test series our intent was to be aggressive all the time. Here again, our intent will be to play intense and aggressive cricket,” he said.
Rahane, who was Kohli’s deputy during the West Indies tour, said the experience was part of the learning curve.
“I don’t believe in senior or junior. For me, it’s about learning at every step. I learnt a lot as vice-captain. On the field it’s important to stay alert all the time because the captain thinks a lot and there are plenty of things going on in his mind. So as a vice-captain it’s important to stay alert and whatever inputs you have, you pass it on to your captain,” he said.