‘Staying blank’ Ajinkya Rahane’s response to batting slot in India team

Ajinkya Rahane came good at No 4, teaming up with Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli to set up victory in the first ODI against South Africa at Kingsmead, Durban.

cricket Updated: Feb 03, 2018 21:01 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Centurion
India vs South Africa,South Africa vs India,Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane stepped up his game at No. 4 as he and Virat Kohli guided India to win against South Africa in the first ODI in Durban.(AFP)

Ajinkya Rahane’s success makes you wonder if all those experiments at No 4 last year were really worth it. (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA FULL COVERAGE)

While there had been calls from various quarters to slot him at No 4 spot in ODIs with the openers’ slots taken, skipper Virat Kohli had insisted through last year that he would only be used as opener.

Rahane struck three fifties and a century in the five-match ODI series in the West Indies, but all those innings came as opener in the absence of Rohit Sharma. Rahane didn’t get to bat in the middle-order on the 2017 Sri Lanka ODI series either.

READ | India vs South Africa: Five things Virat Kohli’s team did right in Durban win over Proteas

However, come South Africa, where fast bowlers hold the trump card, and Kohli has straightaway brought Rahane into the middle order. He confirmed on the eve of the series that since Rahane is good against pace, he’ll bat in the middle order. And Rahane scored 79 to help India win in a canter. Importantly, he rotated the strike to put pressure back on the opposition. But did the musical chairs affect him coming into the series.

Ready to bat anywhere

“I was completely blank. I always believe I can only control what can be controlled. Many times, you tend to waste your energies on things you cannot control... So, when I get an opportunity to bat, I can use the energy there,” he said.

“I have mentioned many times before I am ready to bat at any position the team management tells me to. My mindset is such that whatever my team management tells me to do, I always give positive response to that.”

Rahane’s record against South Africa has been good. In the 2015 World Cup, he played a game-changing knock after opener Shikhar Dhawan had scored a century.

Read | Virat Kohli equals Sourav Ganguly’s record of most ODI tons as India captain

Ahead of this series, he played an impact innings in the final Test at Johannesburg, helping India win.

“The confidence which came from the Test win, where I got 48, helped. But I was determined to do well at No 4 because I batted at that number in the World Cup and a few other series as well.”

It is tough to sit out and then click immediately when one is drafted in as per the team’s needs, Rahane isn’t concerned. “I’m better equipped (to bat at No 4), I’m more mature now, I know how to build an innings at No 4. I enjoy batting at the top two positions, but when you represent your country and get a chance to bat at whatever number, you just want to give off your best for the team.”

First Published: Feb 03, 2018 20:43 IST