With questions persisting on who India will play at the No.4 slot in the 2019 World Cup, Ajinkya Rahane - one of the main contenders for the role - said he is focusing on doing well in the IPL. The Rajasthan Royals skipper said he feels having a good showing in the IPL will help him seal his place in the squad. "I feel it is important to express yourself and not take any undue pressure thinking about things which aren't in your control. The focus is the IPL," he said.
With all international fixtures done with, only the Indian Premier League (IPL) remains for the team of skipper Virat Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and the selectors to decide on who they wish to pick for the No.4 position.
Speaking to IANS, Rahane said he isn't over thinking about the World Cup bus. For the Mumbaikar, the process is more important than the final result. "The approach won't be any different with the World Cup spot looming because at the end of the day you are playing cricket, be it the IPL or any other tournament. You have to score runs and do well for the team. The most important thing will be to think about Rajasthan Royals rather than thinking too much about the road ahead. See, if I do well in the IPL, the World Cup (slot) will automatically come."
Rahane was elevated to the Rajasthan Royals captain's role last time because regular skipper Steve Smith was banned, and he will continue leading the team this time round. "The last year was really good for us, especially as we were coming back after two years and captaining RR was a great experience. I want to thank the management for supporting me and I don't feel any pressure this year. It is important to play as a team and look to enjoy every moment as the IPL is a long tournament. There are players from different culture and it is important to gel well and start on a positive note," he said.
Rahane also said the Royals are looking forward to welcoming the former Australia skipper this year. "We are all very excited to have Smith back. Initially we didn't know if he will be able to make it or not (due to the elbow injury). But when we were told he is coming, that was a boost because his experience and records are unbelievable. He has the ability to win the team matches and that is important for any team," he smiled.
Rahane also spoke about Shane Warne, the Rajasthan Royals Royals brand ambassador this season and the team's mentor last year. "The experience with Warne was brilliant. My first season (4) was his last season as a player. Picking his mind is very important because he is a legend. He was always involved and kept strategising with us. He loves talking cricket and as a team we have learned a lot just as I have personally learned," Rahane said.
On India's successful Test season, he said, "I think this was really special as we all know how difficult it is to win in Australia. This is one of the big achievements for us because going and winning a Test series on foreign soil isn't easy. Starting well is very important and that is what we did in Australia. We had the momentum from the word go and we kept dominating."
(With IANS Inputs)