Ajinkya Rahane is one of the rare cricketers, who has a better overseas record than at home    Getty Images
Ajinkya Rahane is one of the rare cricketers, who has a better overseas record than at home Getty Images

Ajinkya Rahane, born on June 6, 1988, is one of India s leading batsmen today. Following the retirements of the big names, Rahane promises to carry forward their legacy with his unique touch and grace. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 10 facts to know about the right-handed batsman.

1. Humble beginnings: Rahane grew up in a family in Dombivali, a distant suburb of Mumbai. His father used to work for Mumbai s transportation company while his mother was a housewife. In an interview with Forbes India, Rahane revealed that he had joined a cricket academy when he was only seven years old. Rahane said, The objective was that I d get some exercise and stay fit instead of wasting time at home. It wasn t to become a cricketer. This move had come about after he was breaking glass windows while playing gully cricket.

2. Black belt: Rahane is known for his technically solid batting and his electric fielding. Off the field, he also pursued karate and has a black belt in it. His mild mannered nature perhaps masks the dangerous qualities within.

3. India under-15s and under-19s: In 2002, Rahane represented India under-15s in an international tournament in Dubai. Rahane s teammates included PiyushChawla and TanmaySrivastava. They had played a match against Sri Lanka under-15s, who had Angelo Mathews. In 2007, Rahane was a part of the India under-19 team that travelled to New Zealand. Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma were his teammates on that tour.

4. First-Class debut: Rahane had a very rare First-Class debut as he first played for Mumbai against Karachi Urban in 2007. This was for the Mohammad Nissar Trophy, a tournament contested between the domestic champions of India and Pakistan. Rahane opened the batting on debut at the National Stadium, Karachi and scored 143.

5. Highest score in List A cricket for a while? Since 1999, Sachin Tendulkar s 186 against New Zealand remained the highest score by an Indian in List A cricket for a little more than seven years. Rahane smashed 187 in a Vijay Hazare Trophy match in March 2008 against Maharashtra. His innings of 187 came off only 142 balls, comprising 17 fours and eight sixes. Rahane s record stood for about two years before Tendulkar hit the double ton against South Africa.

6. IPL: Rahane was a part of the Mumbai Indians during the first few seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL). With them having a strong top-order, he found it tough to break in and played only a few games across seasons. He was further brought by Rajasthan Royals, where Rahane played under his idol Rahul Dravid but in 2015, his side was banned from the tournament for two years and in the next year he represented a new team Rising Pune Supergiants.

7. T20 International debut alongside Rahul Dravid: During the 2011 tour to England, Rahul Dravid was included in the one-day side and Rahane received his first international call. The first assignment was a T20 International, which saw Dravid and Rahane making their debuts in the format. Rahane smashed 61 in 39 balls to announce his arrival. Batting at No. 3, Dravid hit a quick 31, which included three consecutive sixes. In tandem, they put up 65 for the second wicket.

8. First man to hit six fours in an over in T20 cricket: Using all his touch and grace, Rahane has caressed big runs in T20 cricket. When he smashed a ton against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2012, he had hit six fours in an over off the bowling of SreenathAravind. This was the first time someone had done it in T20 cricket.

9. His Test record are better in away matches than home matches: Rahane made his debut against Australia at Delhi in 2013. Thereafter, he has played most of his Tests away from home and has done exceedingly well, smashing tons of runs in all the assignments. He now has Test tons in New Zealand, England and Australia, Sri Lanka. Except Bangladesh and South Africa, he has made hundreds against every team which he played against in their backyard. Rahane has played 16 Tests at home and scored at 39.68, while overseas, in 21 Tests, his average reads 51.22.

10. Sachin Tendulkar’s high praises: In his early years in international cricket, Rahane spent more time on the bench than on the field. When Sachin Tendulkar drew curtains on his career after his historic 200th Test in Mumbai, he had words of encouragement for Rahane. In his book Playing it My Way, Tendulkar wrote, I had known Rahane for years and had seen how much he loves the game. He has served cricket with complete dedication and commitment over the last few years. I said to him that he might feel hard done by what had happened in his career so far, but should continue to be the way he is, for I was sure Ajinkya would get another chance. Rahane has not disappointed and has arguably been India s best Test batsman after Tendulkar called it a day.

11. An interesting story of his childhood: It is said that Rahane was hit by three consecutive bouncers on his helmet at the age of 8, while playing at Dombivili by a bowler who was thrice his age. Rahane started crying but after sometime, he stood up and smashed the same bowler for five consecutive boundaries.

12. Confusion over his birth date: His birthday happens to be in June 6 every year but there was a slight confusion over that as many of his fans started wishing him one day before the actual date. Probably, it all started because of incorrect birth date being updated on few trustable sites but Rahane cleared everything by tweeting one day before his 28th birthday.


13. Record of taking most catches in a Test: During the first Test between Sri Lanka and India at Galle in August 2015, Rahane broke the previous best record of taking most catches in a single Test by taking eight catches. The previous best record was held by Greg Chappell (Australia), Yuvurvindra Singh (India), Hashan Tillakaratne (Sri Lanka), Stephen Fleming (New Zealand) and Matthew Hayden (Australia), all of whom pocketed seven catches. Interestingly, he took seven out of his eight catches at slip and one was taken by him at gully. Probably, he is the best slip fielder after Dravid in the current Indian side.

14. Fifth Indian to score centuries in both the innings of a Test: During the fourth Test between India and South Africa at Delhi, Rahane was the probably the most out of form batsman in the team but he made his comeback very strongly. He scored centuries in both the innings of that match at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on December 2015. He was also awarded with Man of the match award for his effort. Before him, Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar and Vijay Hazare has scored centuries in both the innings of a Test match.

15. Wife: Rahane got married to his childhood friend Radhika Dhopavkar on September 26, 2014.

Image courtesy: Twitter
Image courtesy: Twitter

16. Test captaincy: Rahane was appointed India’s vice-captain in Tests in July 2016. When Kohli missed the final Test against Australia in 2016-17 due to a shoulder injury, captaincy fell on Rahane, the man who led most of the third Test too. Rahane led India to a win in the Dharamsala Test, which meant India had reclaimed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based cricket journalist and one of the youngest to cover the three major cricketing events ICC World Cup, World T20 and under-19 World Cup. He tweets as @nishad_45)