Ajinkya Rahane has done well for India in the recent past © Getty Images
By Derek Abraham
Have you ever wondered how a batsman makes that seamless transition from one format to another? India batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who swears by whatever his dear ‘Sir’ tells him, is taking special lessons from Pravin Amre, the international cricketer-turned coach.
Rahane, who credits his recent success in Test cricket to Amre, trained with him at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) facility in Bandra-Kurla Complex. Perennially gagged by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the rising India star couldn’t throw light on his preparations for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. However, Amre was kind enough to chip in.
“Look, before he went to South Africa, I told him to be ready to take blows on the body. He did and eventually succeeded,” Amre said. On the technical front, I used to bowl to him from 18 yards with a wet rubber ball. That helped him gauge the reaction time and play accordingly. I also have him throwdowns with a tennis racket so that he get used to the fiery pace of their bowlers,” Amre added.
He then spoke about their current plans. “In Twenty20, he has to score quick runs. There is very little scope of leaving the ball. I have trained him to generate power in his shots,” Amre revealed. And how did he do that? “I applied the principles of baseball. Look, you can’t change the back-lift of a player. But what you can do change is the style of shot-making. Instead of using just the arms and shoulders to strike the ball, I have trained him to use his entire ‘core’ to give the ball a good whack,” Amre explained.
He has a point. According to an American journal, “When the muscles of the core are able to generate a large amount of power, it translates over into your performance. You will be able to gain an incredible amount of bat speed because the torso will literally whip your bat through the zone. As your core strengthens you rely less on your upper body strength and gain the ability to tap into your true power potential by using your leg, hip and core muscles.”
Amre didn’t stop. “T20 is high-intensity cricket. Bowlers generate good pace because they just have to bowl four overs. Bowlers don’t get tired easily. Also, a batsman has to convert his defensive technique into offense. That’s why using your core is important,” he said.
Rahane will most certainly open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan. Or he could bat down the order. Either way, Amre has fine-tuned his game to meet the growing demands of T20. Just like he had in five-day cricket.
(The writer is Principal Correspondent at DNA, where the above article first appeared)