It is hard a bit to believe that Ajinkya Rahane is yet to cement his spot in the ODI team. One of the most technically sound players in the team right now, the 29-year old has Test century in New Zealand, England, Australia and West Indies but he is yet to prove his mettle in the 50-over format.
He got a chance to impress the team management when he was asked to open the innings against New Zealand last year. However, he managed only 143 runs in five outings and could not get a single game under his belt in the recently-concluded Champions Trophy. With Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan looking in divine form, Rahane was looking set to warm the bench for a good period of time. But the team management giving Rohit Sharma a rest for the series in West Indies proved to be a blessing in disguise as Rahane has fully justified the faith shown in him.
In 3 matches so far, he has returned a fifty in every game, including a hundred in the second game and his knock in the third one-day on a difficult wicket in Antigua was perhaps the best one. Playing smartly on the slow and uneven pitch, he laid the platform for the next batsmen with a calm and composed knock of 72.
Speaking after the game which India won by 93 runs, Rahane said he was waiting for the chance and was ready to make the most of it.
“I was confident about myself. It was a matter of getting good runs and consistently,” Rahane said on Friday (June 30). “I was waiting for this chance, I would like to thank Virat and the team management that they gave me this opportunity to bat at the top of the order. I was in England and I wanted to work hard on my fitness, during the IPL season we didn’t get time to work on our fitness, luckily during the Champions Trophy, I got that time. Here, it is coming very handy in this hot weather.”
Explaining about his slow knock, he said: “I am an instinctive player, I like to attack but see at the highest level, you have to adapt. The wicket was completely different to Trinidad. The ball was stopping, there was uneven bounce, we had to take our time.
“Me and Mahi [MS Dhoni] bhai and Yuvi [Yuvraj Singh] paaji were batting, we were discussing about playing a long innings. We were thinking about scoring 225-230, but Mahi bhai batted really well. So on these kind of surfaces, you need to take your time, the Trinidad wicket was different, we were playing our shots, but here, wickets in hand was important,” he added.
The innings in Antigua might have come on a tough surface but Rahane rates his century in the second match as a perfect one for the situation.
“Yes, I felt it was a perfect innings for me as an opening batsman. Before that game, I got 62 odd runs, I was batting really well, in the second game, I really wanted to make it count, the century felt really good,” he said.
“Kedar is a completely different player. He is aggressive, he likes to play his shots, express himself. Today was the perfect situation for him, last 8-10 overs, just go out there and express himself. I felt the partnership between Mahi bhai and Kedar was very important. We were looking to score 225-230 but we got 20 extra runs in the end,” Rahane mentioned.
The Men in Blue have taken an unassailable 2-0 in the five-match series after a washout in the first, and will play the remaining two games in Antigua and Jamaica respectively.