Ajinkya Rahane: Unassuming accumulator who can be symbol of stability in the middle-order
Ajinkya Rahane’s compact technique and temperament makes him the ideal player after Cheteshwar Pujara to succeed in home and away conditions © Getty Images
After the dismal run in the One-Day Internationals, there were critics who questioned whether Ajinkya Rahane had made the most of the opportunities he has been given. The calm, cool and collected batsman once again proved his with a patient ton under trying conditions. Abhijit Banare looks at Rahane’s value for the future of the team.
The first thing you notice about Ajinkya Rahane is the calm demeanour with which he goes about doing his things. But maintaining the same approach consistently even under trying circumstances takes some doing which reflects in the way he conducts himself on the field. When he quietly ambled across to the non-striker’s end to complete his maiden Test ton, there was no visible signs of a batsman who has been under pressure and waiting for his chance. Let’s have a look at what he has gone through before achieving success.
He was waiting in the wings for close to 16 months vying for his Test debut. And it doesn’t help your cause if you end up getting dismissed going for a wild slog during your debut Test at home. This was preceded by sporadic chances in the abridged version of the game, and that too despite a good showing during his debut tour of England in 2011. He has even moved out of his comfort zone to play as an opener to a No 4 batsman in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and even bat at No 6 in Tests.
One hasn’t heard even a single statement or complaint about the decisions that have gone against him or lack of chances for the national team. In the Durban Test against South Africa, he showed his worth by essaying two consecutive half-centuries, while others around him struggled. Those who have seen him bat since his younger days in under-19 matches and First-Class games reckon Rahane is one of the few who can come close to matching Rahul Dravid in terms of solid technique. And it was quite logical that he was eventually compared with Dravid when the two shared the same dressing room for Rajasthan Royals (RR). The Rajasthan franchisee understood his value and had no hesitation in retaining him. Actually, after making it into the Test and ODI team, it won’t be long before Rahane starts playing the shortest format, the one in which he already has a century. However, the Indian selectors too need to keep the faith in him. And going by the impressive record of Sandeep Patil in backing players, Rahane is here to stay.
Rahane doesn’t have a flashy batting style like a Yuvraj, Raina or Rohit. But what Rahane can do consistently is, hit the same cover-drive with the same timing and precision across formats, under any situation
Establishing his credentials as a No 6 Test batsman, Rahane has presented his versatility which has gone relatively unnoticed. He has been an opener, played at No 3, No 4 for India in the ODIs and when needed, has shifted to No 6 spot in Tests. Place him anywhere, and yet, he maintains a similar approach towards his batting. If Cheteshwar Pujara binds the top-order with his solidity, the unassuming and quiet Rahane is good enough to bind together the lower-order. Having a batsman who has the ability to fit in any slot in the line-up is a great reassurance for any captain.
Another aspect which many fail to notice is, Rahane has played his Tests in bowling-friendly conditions of South Africa and New Zealand. Having tasted success in these conditions, he is one player you can bank upon to succeed home and away. And succeeding in overseas conditions requires a good technique which Rahane is well-equipped with.
Unlike Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh or even fellow Mumbai player, Rohit Sharma, Rahane doesn’t have a flashy game with expansive strokes which can entertain the audience. But what Rahane can do consistently is, hit the same cover-drive with similar timing and precision across formats, under any situation. That speaks volumes of a batsman with exceptional temperament. Rahane can play with sweet timing by piercing gaps through the off-side along with an equally controlled cut and pull shot which can race to the boundary boards. Both of these were on display during his maiden Test hundred. And when he completed his ton, there was not a hint of yelling or jumping up in the air from him.
Here’s a batsman who likes to continue his good run away from the spotlight. While India’s best young batsman at present enjoys pumping his fists and hurling abrasive words exuding the ‘youthful’ energy, there’s someone who is likely to be a quiet accumulator for India in the long-run.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)