What's the story?
Indian middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has backed himself to overcome his recent lean run in Tests. Looking forward to a challenging series in South Africa and a few more gruelling assignments later in the year, the vice-captain has expressed belief in his ability to turn 2018 into a memorable year.
In a candid interview with TOI, Rahane asserted, "My mind and heart tells me 2018 is going to be my year and I'm really confident about it. I've always maintained that be it cricket or life, I always prefer to remain in the present. So, while it's going to be a year of many challenges, the focus right now is on South Africa. Doing well there is right on the top of my mind. As far as the big picture is concerned, every day is a different day, every game is a different game."
From 11 Tests in 2017, Rahane could only muster 554 runs at a below par average of 34.62 with one century and three fifties. During the recently completed 3-match series against Sri Lanka at home, he was able to tally just 17 runs from five innings at a miserable average of 3.40.
The heart of the matter
Rahane's career thus far makes for an interesting analysis. Unlike almost every other Asian batsmen who make merry at home and struggle outside their comfort zone, he has progressed in the opposite direction. From 17 Tests outside the subcontinent, the 29-year old has scored 1312 runs at an impressive average of 54.66. However, in Asia, he has registered 1514 runs from 26 Tests at an average of 37.85.
Extra Cover: Indian Cricket Team's 2018 schedule
Playing down those talks of South African conditions being exacting, Rahane opined that the team's hectic schedule has led to the blurring of the dichotomy between home and away matches. He also insisted that successes and failures are always part and parcel of any aspect of like, let alone playing international sport. Alluding to the importance of treating bleak phases as learning opportunities, the Mumbaikar affirmed that he is only one good knock away from recapturing his form.
The opening match of the 3-Test series between South Africa and India will begin at the Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town on January 5. With the team management opting out of the solitary warm-up match, the visitors will be aiming to get into the groove during practice sessions.
Rahane's record away from the subcontinent speaks volumes about his capacity to handle seam and swing. India will need their technically sound stalwart to regain his form at the start of the South Africa series.