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Home talent comes to haunt Mumbai Indians

As the Rajasthan Royals wound up their practice session and headed to the dressing room for a team meeting, Ajinkya Rahane and Ankeet Chavan stayed back. They strolled towards the boundary ropes for a brief chat with those working on the sidelines before joining their teammates. Abhijeet Kulkarni reports. Facing off

india Updated: Apr 11, 2012 01:44 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Rajasthan-Royals-batsman-Ajinkya-Rahane-after-scoring-50-runs-against-Kings-XI-Punjab-during-IPL-5-match-in-Jaipur-HT-Photo-Virendra-Singh-Gosain
Rajasthan-Royals-batsman-Ajinkya-Rahane-after-scoring-50-runs-against-Kings-XI-Punjab-during-IPL-5-match-in-Jaipur-HT-Photo-Virendra-Singh-Gosain

As the Rajasthan Royals wound up their practice session and headed to the dressing room for a team meeting, Ajinkya Rahane and Ankeet Chavan stayed back. They strolled towards the boundary ropes for a brief chat with those working on the sidelines before joining their teammates.

It is a routine the duo follows at the Wankhede Stadium - their home ground in the domestic season - where they are used to adulation every time they come up with a match-winning performance.

Friends turn foes
But come Wednesday, the two could turn out to be the biggest hurdle in the Mumbai Indians' quest for their first home win.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/4/11_04_pg-17b.jpg

The irony wasn't lost on the Mumbai Cricket Association staff when they pointed out that Rahane was part of the MI's squad for the first three years but hardly got a chance to showcase his skills. In those three years, Rahane played only 10 games in the first two editions and was not part of the final squad in the third edition.

The 23-year-old's fortunes changed once he signed up with the Rajasthan Royals in the fourth edition. Having played 11 ODIs and two T20Is for India, Rahane showed the ability to single-handedly win an encounter in RR's opening encounter this season with a 98-run knock.

In fact, they are on the top of the standings and Rahane knows that he would need to play an important role if that statistic has to remain constant. "Playing at the Wankhede is always a special moment. We know the MI are a strong team and it's an important game for us," he said.