In ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Ajinkya Rahane did not get to play a single match and had to perform the duties of a 12th man © AFP
In ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Ajinkya Rahane did not get to play a single match and had to perform the duties of a 12th man © AFP

By Kushan Sarkar

New Delhi: It’s not easy if you have been an India Test captain in March and performing the duties of a 12th man in June but Ajinkya Rahane is a team man to the core, who believes that moment one wears the India jersey, one needs to keep all his insecurities and ego issues at bay. Rahane was the captain during India’s series winning Test against Australia at Dharamsala. However in Champions Trophy, he did not get to play a single match and had to perform the duties of a 12th man. But in the West Indies series that followed, he emerged as the top run-getter with Man of the Series award. Ajinkya Rahane thanks Virat Kohli and team management for giving opportunity to open innings

“If I am the vice-captain of the Test team, it does not mean that I will not be performing my duties as a 12th man in ODIs. The moment you are representing your country, you are suppose to do whatever you are assigned. When I was carrying drinks during the Champions Trophy, I had no ego issues. That’s how I am as a person,” Rahane told PTI during an exclusive interview on Friday. The elegant right-hander made a successful comeback into the ODI playing XI with 336 runs from five ODIs at an average of 67.20 including a hundred and three half-centuries.

“West Indies was a special series for me simply for the consistency that I was able to show. This series is an important one for my ODI career and getting runs in almost all the matches was a really satisfying feeling. I got opportunity to show a different side to my batting and express myself differently,” said Rahane. For Rahane, more than technical, there were mental adjustments that were really very necessary.

Asked to elaborate, Rahane said: “By instinct, I am an attacking batsman but the pitches in the West Indies required a different mindset. It required patience and at times not get enticed to go for the big ones. Discretion was necessary in shot selection. “And when we talk about discretion, that’s where the mind comes into play — to be able to think clearly what are the shots that I am going to play in a particular situation, on a particular kind of pitch,” he said.

For him, what made the knocks special was the pitches in the West Indies which weren’t exactly batting friendly with the ones in Port of Spain and Antigua creating difficulties. “Actually the 62 that I got in the first ODI [abandoned due to rain], gave me a lot of confidence. It was my comeback match. I wanted to have a good knock under my belt. Once I got those runs, the second match was even better when I scored that century. The pitches were sluggish in nature and each pitch was so different from one another,” he stated.

The soft-spoken Rahane said that not for once did he feel insecured because he was coming in place of a rested Rohit Sharma, who is again expected to open the innings during the Sri Lanka ODIs. “This is a great phase in Indian cricket where we have so many top quality players competing for a place in the Indian team. It’s always good to have competition. As far as I am concerned, I have never ever been insecured in my life.”

Although he doesn’t want to look too far ahead, Rahane is game about batting at any slot in the limited overs version. “Actually my spiritual guru tells me one thing. It is very important to live in the present, irrespective of whether you are playing or not. The biggest lesson of life for me is to keep things simple. As far as batting order is concerned, when you are playing for India, if the coach and the captain tells you to perform a particular duty, you do it. So if I am told to bat at a particular position, I will perform to the best of my abilities,” he said with an air of confidence.

On the upcoming Sri Lanka tour, Rahane said that like every Test series, he does his homework and it will be no different this time around. “I have a few plans for the series and I am working towards it. Obviously, you don’t reveal your strategy. Also the Zimbabwe series will not be an indicator that Sri Lanka will be an easy prey for the Indian team. They have some quality players and as opposition, we need to respect them,” he concluded.