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Ajinkya Rahane: Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman’s presence helped me grow as a batsman

Ajinkya Rahane © Getty Images
Ajinkya Rahane spoke about the need of having patience while batting with tail-enders © Getty Images

Aug 5, 2014

India batsman Ajinkya Rahane said on Tuesday that the presence of biggies such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the dressing room helped him grow as a batsman.

“I was so lucky to have people like Sachin paaji, Rahul bhai and Laxman paaji around to observe and learn from. “, the batsman said in an interview with BCCI.tv. The batsman also spoke about how a player’s mindset needs to change depending on what position he is batting. “You go in to bat with different situations all the time and you have to alter your game according to the scoreboard situation. In this series so far I have had to come in and bat with the responsibility of steadying the team innings. My approach has been to give the initial few overs to the bowlers, respect them and get in. Once I score 25-30 runs, I start playing my normal game.”, he added.

When asked about how he would prepare for the match, Rahane said that he would watch videos of Dravid and Tendulkar and observed how they handled the pressure situation. “I keep watching the videos of all the great innings played Rahul bhai, Sachin paaji and Laxman paaji. I watch how they approached a pressure situation and got the team out of the jail. I draw motivation from watching their innings. For instance, now that we are in England, I watch some of the innings they played here. I watch how they countered the conditions and what kind of shots they played. I learn a lot from that and also get motivated to emulate their performances.”, he said.

The middle-order batsman also spoke about how he tried to emulate VVS Laxman‘s methods. “When batting in top three, you have to get ready very quickly if you’re batting first or after you return from fielding. When batting at No. 5 you have more time in your hands. I noticed how Laxman paaji made the optimal use of the time. He used to come to the dressing room, relax, take a shower and take a brief nap. I learnt from him how important it is that during this time when you are waiting for your turn to bat, you don’t over-think things and stress your mind out. It is important to switch off and go out to bat with a fresh mind when your turn comes. I did take that from him – sometimes, when there is a bit extra time, I try to sleep for 10-15 minutes. It helps me de-stress and rejuvenate my mind.”, he said.

Rahane admitted that he still got a little nervous before going in to bat. “No matter how many Test matches you have played, you’re always a little nervous before a game and before going in to bat. And I believe it is important to have that nervousness because that means that you care about this game and you respect it.”, he said.

The middle-order batsman also said that he never got frustrated when other players in the team performed badly, but vowed to do well on their behalf. “I don’t get frustrated because I know that every man is trying his best for the team. Also, in this game, a batsman needs to make only one mistake to get out but the bowler has five more balls in the over if he bowls a bad one. When I bat, I take the responsibility of the entire team on me. I owe it to every member of the team including the support staff for the hard work they put into preparing me for the match. It is also my responsibility to bat for those team mates of mine who are not doing well. So, when the others get out, there is no frustration, only stronger determination to do well on their behalf.”, he said.

Rahane also spoke about batting with tail-enders, and said that patience was the key in such situations. “You absolutely need patience when you’re batting with the bowlers and the earlier you learn how to read them and the situation, the better it will be. For instance, when I got out for 96 in South Africa [second Test, Durban, 2013], a century was on my mind. I was thinking about getting those four runs as quickly as possible because I was batting with the tail. I played that slog shot and got out on 96. That’s when I realized that I need to understand how to bat with the tailenders. That’s when I started watching the videos of Dhoni bhai [MS Dhoni] and Mike Hussey to learn how they carry the tailend batsmen with them.”, he said.

“We always knew that guys like Bhuvi and Ishant can bat. In this series, the bowling coach has encouraged them a lot to improve their batting and we have seen the result. I have realized that the most important thing about batting with the bowlers is to show them that you trust them. If they feel like you believe in them, their self belief will rise too. In cricket the importance of the ninth and tenth wicket partnerships is very high. It frustrates the opposition and gives your team a mental edge. That moral edge can change the game.”, he added.

Speaking about the famous victory at Lord’s, Rahane said, “At Lord’s I got to know what it feels like to win a Test match overseas. It was such an emotional feeling for all of us and it was so special. You play for moments like that. That is the feeling that makes every struggle and difficulty worthwhile.”

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