Ajinkya Rahane was one of the revelations of the recently concluded Indian Premier League. Headed for the Caribbean next, where he will represent India A, Rahane hopes to make a strong case for a spot in the Indian team. Wisden India found out that Rahane was willing to do whatever his country wanted if he was given the opportunity.
Ajinkya, all those runs for Mumbai on the domestic circuit over the years, but stardom seems to have come to you after the IPL. Isn't that slightly strange, considering that you are not really a slogger?
It is a bit strange. I have played for the India Under-19s, got opportunities in the Ranji Trophy and, of course, my proudest moment was when I got the India cap on the tour of England last year. Like everyone else, I have always dreamt of representing my country. Now, the IPL. A lot of people feel I am not suited to the T20 format, but I believe in myself and I back my abilities. If your basics are strong and you are mentally well-prepared, you can adjust to all three formats.
You have stuck to playing 'non-T20' strokes to score your runs even in the IPL ...
I am trying to chart the path set by people like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. I have followed them sinceÂ my childhood. They have shown that you don't need to play strange strokes to be successful in the IPL. They have shown again and again that the calmer you are on the field, the better it is. The simpler you keep things, the better it is for you. Tendulkar and Dravid are both legends and I have watched both of them from close quarters in the T20 format as well as in Test cricket, and I've seen how they play proper cricket strokes to score their runs. That should help in the four-day or five-day formats, whether for Mumbai or for India A.
Going forward, more and more slots are bound to open up in the Indian Test team. Where do you see yourself fitting in - at the top of the order or somewhere else?
Right now, I am not thinking of all that. I just know that I am ready for everything. I am up for any challenge that is thrown at me. I am happy to open, and I am happy to bat in the middle-order. If my country chooses me, I won't think about a specific position that I want to bat at. All that is just in the mind. As far as I am concerned, I will respond to whatever demand is made of me.
Going back to the IPL, did it make life easier to have Dravid as your captain, because, maybe, he didn't expect you to change your game?
It's been pretty much the same playing under Sachin paaji as well as Rahul bhai. They tell me the same thing - play your natural game, and keep things simple. Then you will be able to choose your shots better and innovate a lot more.
Do you get more attention from players like Tendulkar or Dravid than the other youngsters in the team because of the promise you have shown so far?
Not really. Neither of them plays favourites. All the youngsters are the same to them. Rahul bhai speaks to all the youngsters the same way, helping us out, giving us little tips. It's been such an honour to play the IPL under two of the greatest legends of the game.