Is Test specialist Ajinkya Rahane’s poor county season with Hampshire a concern for India?
Ajinkya Rahane: "I am trying to challenge myself with different types of practice sessions." (Image: Twitter/@bracecricket)

Since he marked his English county debut for Hampshire with a century in a County Championship Division One fixture in May, Ajinkya Rahane has reached the 50-mark just once in 12 subsequent innings.

During this time, India’s Test vice-captain has scores of 10, 31, 0, 34, 0, 0, 55, 8, 4, 3, 1 and 42 for a season tally of 307 runs in 13 innings. His batting average is 23.61, and the two ducks he bagged in Hampshire’s innings defeat to Essex at Chelmsford a month ago is the first time in Rahane’s first-class career that he failed to score in two innings of a match.

India are due to resume playing Test cricket in August, as the tour of the West Indies enters its last phase.

Speaking to Sportstar this week, Rahane said that his first stint in county cricket had been a good experience. “In England, the weather plays an important role and your game plan changes accordingly,” he said. “In the first two games, the weather was different to what it is now. Here, all the club grounds are different from each other and it’s been an experience playing here. I have enjoyed a lot.”

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Since the start of 2018, Rahane averages 30.09 from 22 Test innings. In this time he has managed to score five half-centuries, and has been dismissed in the eighties twice. Seven times he has been out between 10 and 20, and a further five times for 10 or less.

Despite the inconsistency and inability to convert fifties into hundreds, Rahane said he was confident of where his batting is.

“For me, preparation is very important and it’s also about getting into the zone,” he said. “The 30s, 40s or the 50s will convert to big scores, if you stick to your basics. It is important as a batsman to convert starts into big scores once you are set. But I don’t think there’s a problem anywhere.”

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Across his time playing for Hampshire at venues like Newport, Headingley, Nettleworth, Chelmsford, Taunton and Southampton, Rahane has encountered various conditions and changes of weather. The learning for him has been to adapt to the changes, which he hopes to channel into Test cricket with India due to play West Indies, South Africa, Bangladesh and New Zealand over the next six months.

“As a batsman, it is important to spend time in the middle. The more time you spend at the crease, the better it is for you,” he said. “It makes you more confident. And that’s what I am looking at. I am not thinking too much about the runs. Yes, runs are important but if you spend time in the middle, runs will come automatically. The practice sessions are also important.

I am trying to challenge myself with different types of practice sessions. I am just looking to enjoy the process. As a batsman, if you can keep things simple in the English conditions — playing close to your body, playing it as late as possible and reading the lines — things will fall in place. I am talking to my team-mates, who are the local guys, and learning from them. I would like to take home as much as possible from the experience I gain here.”