Ajinkya Rahane, the Rajasthan Royals opener and batting mainstay, is now a regular in the Indian Test side and he credits the Indian Premier League for the confidence it instilled in him to face world-class bowlers on the tours of South Africa and New Zealand recently.
Rahane, who has so far scored 1316 runs from 54 matches in the IPL, however has not been able to cement his spot in India's limited overs team. A paltry 687 runs from 27 games at an average of 25.44 do not do justice to the Mumbai batsman's talent but he did come alive in the Asia Cup, slamming two half-centuries to make his presence felt. Rahane was also preferred over Shikhar Dhawan in the closing stages of the ICC World Twenty20 and though he did not set the tournament on fire, he remains a promising prospect for Team India.
However, these brief hints of success have not been enough for Rahane to force his way into the star-studded middle-order in the ODI team. After missing out on golden opportunities in the recent past, the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League will give him another chance to establish his credentials.
Rahane feels the IPL has helped him prosper, although modestly, in international cricket and he is keen to make another strong impression.
"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. You have a fair idea of how they bowl and their strengths and weaknesses. IPL has helped us a lot in that sense," Rahane told the Indian Express.
Rahane is a proven performer in the Ranji Trophy and having scored heavily for Mumbai. But like Rohit Sharma, Rahane too feels that the IPL has given him the platform to express himself against quality bowlers. (Also read: Rohit Sharma credits IPL captaincy for turning a new leaf)
The 25-year-old Rahane, had a great last season in the IPL and he was able to carry some of that form into the international level. Another good year for him starting April 16 could see Rajasthan Royals repeat their heroics of last year and help the genial batsman cement a permanent place in Team India. But Rahane is not ready to create any extra pressure for himself. (Read this: Controversies aside, Chennai Super Kings ready for new season, says Suresh Raina)
"The main thing is to keep things simple and not put too much pressure on myself. I'm enjoying my batting at the moment," Rahane said. "We have a good side, a side full of players who know the inner workings of the Rajasthan Royals set-up. Getting back into the groove quickly will be key. The reason for Royals' success in the past is our willingness to help one another out, no matter what."
Rajasthan Royals start their IPL campaign against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 18 in Abu Dhabi. (Hope to do well for Sunrisers Hyderabad again, says Ishant Sharma)