Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, RR, IPL 2018, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid
Ajinkya Rahane © AFP

Exclusion of Steven Smith from Vivo IPL 2018 due to ball tampering scandal added extra responsibility to the shoulders of Ajinkya Rahane. Rahane has led Rajasthan Royals (RR) to three wins in the current season. Rahane and Smith have different approach to the game and vary in captaincy as well. In an interview with TOI, Rahane revealed that team misses Smith and also talked about pressure of leading a team in IPL.

Definitely there is a pressure 

“What’s done is done, we can’t control these things. Smith is a quality and an experienced player. Definitely I respect Steve Smith and we miss him at RR but I always feel that cricket is a team sport and every player is equally important.”

“Definitely, not only the captain, but all the players have to deal with pressure. But being a captain is definitely a bigger responsibility. Especially as an IPL team captain because there are players from all over and they have different cultural backgrounds. So you need to deal with bringing out the best in each of them while understanding their cultural background. You can’t handle every player with the same approach. Each player is motivated by different things. So as a captain it is very important to understand that. Definitely there is a pressure but I always try to take it positively.”

Guatam Gambhir shocked everyone when he stepped down as Delhi Daredevils (DD) captain and handled the responsibility to young Shreyas Iyer. DD have only won one match in the tournament so far. However, Rahane feels it is not the captains fault when the team does not perform.

“It’s not the captain’s fault when the team fails to perform. Sometimes certain combinations don’t work. It doesn’t always work out the way you plan. I don’t think it’s any of his fault how things play out. I’m sure when he took up Delhi’s captaincy he had the same purpose that all of us have, to make sure the team wins. I know him well and I’ve seen him play for India for so long. He’s a passionate player and a good captain, but there are always some ups and downs that we all have to face as a player and leader. But from what I know of Gautam, his attitude on the field is really great. He has taken responsibility for the team not performing and that is really commendable.”

Reflecting on his early days, Rahane spoke about the challenges he had to face. He even revealed Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid  were his role models while growing up and how they helped him in his career ahead.

“There were challenges but since my childhood I always felt that you can either go up or go down, there is no middle path. So, you have to choose your path. What motivated me was when I used to travel in the Mumbai local trains for four hours every day just to play cricket. I grew up watching Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid and playing alongside them was mesmerizing for me. But whenever I play my focus and attitude are always same, whether I am playing for my club, my state or my country. Sachin in his last Test told me that ‘your attitude is your greatest strength’. He said that he has been watching me since my initial days and many people have skills but this attitude is rare which keeps one motivated in all situations.”