Former India batsman Praveen Amre is helping talented Ajinkya Rahane master the art of "employing baseball technique while batting" so that the Mumbai youngster can generate more power in his strokes in the shortest format.
Rahane has had a successful stint with Rajasthan Royals so far, playing with a copybook technique under Rahul Dravid's mentorship but Amre's 'Out of the Box' thinking has led to him trying to rejig his game to meet the demands of T20 cricket.
Explaining the rationale behind using baseball hitting technique, he said,"Australians developed throwing techniques from baseball to minimise the injuries. You need to throw the ball at a good pace and in quick time, and the right technique of throwing is important. So I thought why not implement the hitting technique of baseball. So I experimented and tried it myself."
"I was also following some videos of baseball. It is a game of bat and ball but only with a different type of bat (rounded), and the players could generate a lot of force in their strokes," remarked the former Mumbai Ranji Trophy coach.
"T20 is a totally different format. I have trained him to generate power in his shots. It is crucial to perform with power in this format. In T20 power hitting matters. Instead of using just the arms and shoulders to strike the ball, I have told him to use his entire core to hit the ball," Amre said.
Rahane had earlier worked with Amre on facing short balls before leaving for the South Africa tour in December and missed out on his maiden Test ton as he ran out of partners stranded on 96 in the second and final game at Kingsmead, Durban.
Amre further said he and Rahane worked on the mental aspect of the game as well, to prepare the 25-year-old for opening the innings or playing down the order. "For the last 3-4 days, we have been working. We have also worked on the mindset. How he will approach the game if he is opening, or what will be his mindset when he is batting lower down the order or when there is a six to be hit off the last ball. I won't recommend this (baseball) technique for Tests and ODIs, but only for T20," he said.
Amre has coached Rahane for the last six years. "Rahane has been coming to me for the last six years. He is fine with the Test and ODI (games) and has been preparing this technique for the T20 World Cup," Amre said.
The right-hander, one of the rising stars of Indian cricket, can bat at any position, as was evident in the Champions League T20 in 2013
"He can bat at any number. Champions League T20 is an important event and it is a tournament where the best players from all over the world participate. He got the golden bat in that and he opened the innings (for Rajasthan Royals) and consistently got the runs for his team."
The Indian team for the T20 World Cup is set to leave for Bangladesh on Friday, and Amre felt the inclusion of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, besides the return of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had opted out of just concluded Asia Cup due to injury, will strengthen the squad.
Amre, who had scored a Test ton on debut against South Africa in Durban, said the Indian team has many options in batting, which looks solid at the moment.
"It is a good position to be in as we have many options. One player may have to sit out and the team management will have to think on whom to play and to shuffle the batsmen."
Amre felt spinners would have an important role to play in the sub-continent conditions and singled out leg spinner Amit Mishra as a key bowler. "Amit did very well in the last match (in Asia Cup). He gives a variety and there are very few quality leg spinners at the moment."