Having made his international debut back in 2011, Ajinkya Rahane has come a long way to become one of India’s leading batsmen in Test cricket. In fact, he is the only one from a current lot of Indian batsmen to have an average of above 50 outside Asia.
Rahane has also played a massive role in two of India’s most meaningful overseas victories in recent past – Lord’s 2014 and Wanderers 2018. While the Mumbaikar has scored a majestic 103 in the first innings of Lord’s Test on a green mamba, he played a glorious knock of 48 in the second innings of Wanderers Test on a treacherous deck.
During his 7-year long international career, Rahane has represented India in 45 Tests thus far, scoring 2893 runs at an average of 43.17 with 9 tons and 12 fifties. He has also proved his mettle in ODIs, amassing 2962 runs in 90 matches at 35.26 despite playing at different positions.
Preparing for the forthcoming Test series in England, Rahane, recently reminisced about the times when he started playing the sport.
“I started playing cricket in Dombivli. I used to play with a tennis ball along with my building mates. There were many complaints about broken windowpanes. One day, my father and a neighbour discussed my technique. In fact, my neighbour told my father that my technique looked really good and I should enrol in an academy. My intention was to go out and play any sport rather than thinking about achieving something. I just wanted to go out and play so that my mind was busy. When you play a sport, not only cricket, you learn so many things in general about life,” Rahane said in an exclusive interview with Mid-Day.
When asked how he broke into the Mumbai Ranji team, he revealed: “I started my cricket coaching at Dronacharya Cricket Club in Dombivli. My first coach was Mr Khatu. There were U-14 selection trials. I was nine or 10 at that time. During a tournament in Worli, I was representing Thane district and we went for the selections. I hardly faced four to five balls and they told me to come out [of the nets]. Later, they told me that I was selected.”
“I was really happy, but after five minutes, they told me that I was out. The reason they said was that I was still young and there are guys who are 13 or 14 and they should get a chance. I could wait. I don't know what happened after that, but one of the coaches went to the selectors and told them that my technique looked really good and they should keep me in the team. He also tried to explain to them that keeping me out would affect me,” Rahane explained.
Talking about his maiden Ranji Trophy season, the 30-year-old said: “It was not that great. They [selectors] were thinking about dropping me, but I want to thank Pravin Amre sir [Mumbai coach]. He really backed me in my first season. From my second season onwards, I did really well. Because of my Ranji Trophy performance, I got the opportunity to represent my country. That's why Ranji Trophy is so special. Every youngster, whatever state they represent, has to give importance to domestic cricket, especially Ranji Trophy cricket.”
Recalling his international debut that came against England in a T20I game in 2011, Rahane asserted: “I made my debut in the T20 format at Manchester, but let me tell you about the day I got the news of my selection. I was at home and got a phone call from BCCI about being selected. I went and told my mom. She was very emotional at that time and was lost for words. She hugged me because she knew I had worked really hard for those five to six years in domestic cricket. Manchester gave me the biggest moment to represent my country in the shorter format.”
Speaking about his stellar overseas record which earns him a lot of praise from the cricket fans and experts, Rahane said: “Before any series or tour, I do my preparation and keep it very simple. In England, the conditions change within 15 to 20 minutes. It all depends on the weather, but playing close to your body in England, playing as late as possible and having the patience to wait for that loose ball is very important. My practice sessions at BKC were all about focusing on playing late and playing close to my body.”
Rahane concluded by talking about his approach to deal with the challenges of life.
“I always feel that one should enjoy every moment in life. There should not be any fluctuation. Unknowingly, we all, as human beings, try to capture everything, but it's not that. Life is all about giving. We should learn from each and every person even if they are junior or senior to you. There should be no ego clashes. Give more than your 100 per cent to what you have been called to do and enjoy success and failure at the same time,” he signed-off.