He may not have been able to cement his spot in the Indian national team but for Rajasthan Royals, Ajinkya Rahane has emerged as the premier batting force in the ongoing Indian Premier League. The 25-year-old hit 64 off 50 against Delhi Daredevils on Thursday night to help his team register a 62-run win. His fluent strokeplay has also helped Rahane become the highest scorer for Rajasthan in IPL 2014 (316 runs at an average of 28.72).
Opening the innings, Rahane slapped eight fours and a six against Delhi as Rajasthan eventually posted a daunting target of 202. The dominant nature of this innings was one of several instances when Rahane has led from the front this season. With three fifties this , he has become the most dominant batsman in the side which boasts of power-hitters like skipper Shane Watson, and excellent finishers like Steve Smith and James Faulkner. Rahane, in fact, is the only Rajasthan batsman to have breached the 300-run mark in IPL 2014.
It, however, is not just a 'one-season fluke' as the former Mumbai Indians batsman has delivered in every edition of the tournament. With eleven IPL fifties for Rajasthan alone and seven IPL man-of-the-match awards overall, Rahane has showed time and again that he has a firm grasp on what it takes to succeed in this format of the game. Little wonder then that he recently said IPL cricket has given him the confidence of facing the world.
"It (IPL) surely helps because when I faced them (international bowlers) in Test cricket, I took confidence from the fact that I had already played most of them in the IPL before," he was quoted as saying recently.
As Rajasthan now look to battle their way to a place in the playoffs, the team would be counting a lot on Rahane's form and the confidence that it brings with it.
(Stats by Rajesh Kumar)