Elated after scoring his maiden Test hundred, Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane on Saturday thanked retired legends Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid for inspiring him and helping him become a better player.
Rahane hit 118 runs in the ongoing second Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve to take India to a total of 438 runs in their first innings and give the team a lead of 246 runs.
"Rahul Dravid is my role model and I have been following him since childhood. I have played with him in the Indian team and with Rajasthan Royals, and I really learnt a lot from him both on and off the field. I just want to thank Rahul bhai," Rahane said at the end of second day's play.
"I also want to thank Sachin (Tendulkar) paaji because during his last two Test matches, he talked to me about my batting. He said, 'I have been following you, and your hard work and your fitness. Just be patient and wait for your chance.' Thanks to both of them," he added.
The 25-year-old said he did not know how to express his feeling of elation at getting maiden Test ton after narrowly missing out on it in the tour of South Africa.
"I don't know how to express my feelings. A Test hundred is always special, but I will remember this first hundred for a long time. It's a very special hundred for me, but tomorrow is also a crucial day for us and hopefully the bowlers will do their job," said Rahane.
"Initially when I went in to bat, I just wanted to take my time to settle down and just wanted to play my game. I was looking to do whatever I have been doing in domestic cricket and continue the same way. I am really happy that I got a hundred here," he added.
Previously, his best score in Test cricket was 96 runs, which he made against South Africa at Durban. This time he went one better, despite being in the company of tailenders once again.