Indian cricket is now in the rebuilding phase, after the retirements of batting greats such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. In their place, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have come to the fore. In this piece, we look at Rahane’s strengths as a batsman, and his method of dealing with criticism.
With all the talk about Indian cricket’s blue-eyed-boy being Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane has slipped under the radar for the last few years and has quietly made himself indispensable in the team for all formats. With test hundreds in England, South Africa and New Zealand, he is soon becoming this generation’s answer to Rahul Dravid.
However, like his mentor, he is struggling with rotating the strike in ODI cricket. In the World Cup, especially, on the big grounds of Australia where rotating the strike is an important skill to possess, he has been found to swallow more dot balls than was his due. MS Dhoni, ODI captain of the team, criticised Rahane in a press conference saying that the batsman must develop his skills for rotating the strike, both in slow Indian conditions and also on faster overseas pitches.
However, ask Rahane himself and he brushes away all suggestions of being hurt by the comments. ‘I have taken Dhoni bhai’s feedback in a positive manner and I have moved on,’ he said. ‘The Bangladesh tour is past for me. My aim is to be consistent in ODIs and it is all in the mind.’
When asked if the rapport between senior and junior players in the team is good, the batsman refused to believe in classifying players as senior and junior. ‘There is nothing called senior or junior in the team. All fifteen players are important and they should all believe in their abilities.’
After a short stint as captain for the tour of Zimbabwe, Rahane is now back among the ranks as Virat Kohli’s understudy. Kohli seems to be the long-term choice of selectors as captain, whereas Rahane will continue to serve him as vice-captain, whether or not he is officially called that. At the moment, it seems that the baton from the golden age of batting has well and truly passed, with Kohli assuming the mantle of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahane aiming to fill Rahul Dravid’s shoes.
Now all that needs to be done is fill up all the other spots in the line up and see where Indian cricket goes from here.