Playing county games for Hampshire helped: Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane during his 102 in India's second innings at Antigua. © AFP

India Test vice-captain and middle-order mainstay Ajinkya Rahane has credited his time at Hampshire for leaving his century drought behind.

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Rahane scored 81 and 102 against West Indies in the first Test setting base for a big 318-run win in Antigua. The century, Rahane’s 10th of Test career, was his first in for over two years in the format.

To address his repeated failures to reach three figures in the longest format, Rahane signed up with England county club Hampshire where he had a patchy run, scoring 307 runs across 13 innings. He though started his stint in style with a century before fading away during a phase that saw him register three ducks – including two in the same match.

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Under pressure to retain his place in the side, Rahane came up with a superb fighting half-century in the first innings in Antigua after India’s top-order was blown away Windies pacers. He again top-scored in the second dig, setting the hosts 419-run to win the match before Jasprit Bumrah waded through them for a record-win.

For his efforts, the 31-year-old was chosen as the man-of-the-match.

“Feels really special,” Rahane said at the post-match presentation. “I thought the first innings was very crucial for us. The partnership between me and Rahul was very crucial. Before this, I played county games for Hampshire and that helped me.”

He added, “I think first day of the game, the wicket was really damp. We knew if we stay there the runs would come. The plan was to bat, bat and bat.”

Rahane didn’t forget to thank those who stood by him during his slump. “I dedicate this award to the people who have backed me for the last one and a half to two years,” he said.

The second Test starts from August 30 at Sabina Park in Kingston.