While he is a vital cog in the side when it comes to Tests and ODIs, it hasn’t been an easy ride for Ajinkya Rahane in the shortest format.
A power-packed batting order calls for stiff competition but Rahane didn’t really exploit the four T20 internationals he was picked for. A best of 25 against Sri Lanka and a dismal duck against Pakistan, courtesy a Mohammed Amir toe-cruncher, leaves Rahane a T20 potential who may not be a regular choice in the World Twenty20.
India team director Ravi Shastri however calls it a ‘good problem to have’. “People who are in the bench like Harbhajan or Ajinkya can get into any team in the world. So it’s a good headache. And he will be around. He is one player who can play all three formats,” said Shastri during a media interaction on Wednesday.
Rahane looks to use the time spent outside the team eleven to sharpen his skills. “It’s a very good thing that the team is settled. That’s what you want as a team member. This is a great opportunity for me to prepare well, to work hard on the game. I’m mentally and technically ready for my opportunity, whenever I get it. It’s a team game and you have to respect the team’s decisions. Team comes first for me,” said Rahane on Tuesday.
To him, even the smallest job counts as a contribution to the team. “Even giving someone water when he needs it gives me a lot of happiness. Or a suggestion about batting. Your mindset must be like that,” he said.
The struggle might be uphill but Rahane is clear about his goals. “My patience, my thinking, my positive attitude have been my plus points. I want to be a top batsman for my country,” he said.
Rahane considers his ability to time the ball as an asset. “I don’t copy anyone. It’s important to stick to your strength and for me its timing. Even in IPL I did really well because of my timing. I kept my game very simple and focused on timing,” he said.
The demands of the shortest format have prompted Rahane to practice the unconventional shots too. “I focus on a few shots that I can improve in this format. At any net practice I look to improve one shot, be it sweep, the reverse-sweep or the lap shot,” he said.
Rahane however wants to stick to his game of playing it simple. “I know I can clear the rope easily. But I think it’s important to focus on singles and doubles also in T20s because if a partnership is going well, one batsman can hit sixes and fours while the other one has to keep rotating the strike,” he said.
For the time being Rahane is prepared to play the waiting game and improving as much as possible. “There is nothing wrong with my batting. Or my approach. It is just that the team is doing really well,” he said.