Like he is with the bat in hand, Ajinkya Rahane plays on merit with the microphone in hand as well. After making his highest ever Test score on Sunday, the 28-year-old admitted that he had to struggle his way to the score, but added that he will remember this effort for the sheer amount of hard work that he had to put in.
“My approach was good. I struggled but it’s no shame to struggle. How you overcome it is important. Today I was really happy, they were bowling short balls as I knew they will give me runs. Yesterday, I struggled but today it was different. Once I got my hundred with Jeetan Patel and Santner came on to bowl, I wanted to play my normal cricket shots,” he said on Sunday.
It was an honest admission from an honest man and one that saw many take further notice of not just Rahane the cricketer, but also Rahane the person.
Take the example of any good cricketer and he will tell you that after a poor day in the office, he would go back and introspect over what went wrong. The introspection could either be self or otherwise, but a batsman or a bowler always thinks about what needed to be done the next day in order to deliver a much-improved performance on the field.
The unbeaten 79 that Rahane made on Day One may seem like he was at his fluent best, but it was hardly the case. He was probed consistently by the New Zealand and also got knocks on his ribs, shoulders etc. It was anything but a comfortable stay at the wicket.
After the day had finished, Rahane had a conversation over his performance with Pravin Amre and he told him to hang in there and assured him that runs will come. Here’s a snippet of the conversation:
“Double pace aahe wicket la’’(The pitch has double pace): Rahane to Amre
“Tu faqt ube rah, runs yetil (You just stay at the wicket, runs will come),”: Amre to Rahane(Quotes: The New Indian Express).
“His preparation has helped him a lot.Look, he got out by trying to pull in Kolkata, so he must have decided not to play the pull shot. He was ready to take those blows on his chest. Teams have started to plan for him. Look how he reacted to it. It was the best batting I have seen from him in recent times,” Amre told the Indian Express.
On Sunday, a determined Rahane walked out to bat and was once again hit on the back of his head early on. That, however, didn’t deter him and he continued to march away.
There are not many players in world cricket today, who play the pull shot with complete assuredness. Ricky Ponting was perhaps the last batsman in the modern era who did so.
In the past, Rahane has shown that he was capable of taking on the short ball, when in the Melbourne Test of 2014, he pulled Mitchell Johnson and co. with great conviction and matched Virat Kohli shot for shot.
His ability to play that shot with confidence has not been a sudden development and has taken him years to develop and one of the men who played a role in suggesting him to go for that shot was former India and Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper VB Chandrasekhar.
"I got a call from a person saying he was his coach or mentor. I don't remember his name. He asked me should Rahane play the pull shot or refrain from it as he was making a lot of mistakes?"
“The typical Mumbai attitude is to ask him to duck or leave it. Sachin Tendulkar could both play it as well as leave it. I said it's better for Rahane to play the shot by learning it properly rather that not use it at all” he told the Times of India.
From his maiden Test against Australia in Delhi to making his highest Test score at Indore, Rahane has definitely come a long way and it is his ability to keep working on his game that helps him correct his flaws sooner than others and emerge as a better batsman all the time.