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Rahul Dravid gave me the confidence to express myself as a leader, says Ajinkya Rahane

The 28-year-old talked about his preparations for the West Indies series and the importance of practice and hard work in modern-day cricket.

Rahul Dravid Ajinkya Rahane India Rajasthan Royals Cricket
Rahane talked about Dravid’s impact on him as a cricketer as well as a leader

Indian middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who will be Virat Kohli’s deputy on India’s upcoming tour to the Carribean where the Men in Blue will be playing four Tests, has credited Rahul Dravid for making him a better leader, ESPN Cricinfo reports. Speaking about his preparations for the series against West Indies, Rahane revealed that he has been employing different strategies to counter the challenges expected on different surfaces and that things will be no different in the Carribean either. 

“In West Indies, from whatever I have heard, a few wickets have good bounce and pace. Jamaica has good bounce. Few wickets might have some turn, some help for the spinners. So I am just practising according to that,” he said.

“I was practising with wet rubber balls (ahead of the 2014-15 Test series against South Africa at home) just to get my reaction right, my hand-eye co-ordination right. Because sometimes wickets are softer, two-paced wickets, it helps to practise with a tennis ball. The tennis ball comes [on to the batsman] slightly slower than a rubber ball. So I have been practising with a tennis ball, rubber ball and leather ball,” he added. 

Rahane, who has time and again credited Dravid for helping him fine-tune his game on several occasions, having had the opportunity to work together closely during their time at the now-suspended IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals, feels the present India A and Under-19 team coach has had an impact on him with regards to improving his leadership skills as well.

“He (Dravid) gave me the confidence to express myself - not only on the field but off the field in team meetings or wherever we travel. He just told me, "Whatever you feel, just be free to express it, so that your mind will be freer. You will start thinking more and more," Rahane said. 

Looking back on his short stint as skipper of a young India side that toured Zimbabwe back in 2015, Rahane said that it was a good learning experience. 

“I think as a leader, as a captain, it's important to back your instincts, whatever you feel. Yes, it is important to take advice from your colleagues, but, in the end, what your instincts tell you, you should back that. Whenever I am on the field, I always try and think: If I am the captain, what should be my field? What will I do in certain situations, certain conditions? I always think that way, so that whenever an opportunity comes I am ready for that,” he said. 

Preparation is something you can control, not the results: Rahane

Rahane, who is known for his dedication to the game, implied that there are no shortcuts to success and seeing the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Dravid slog it out in the nets even after cementing their status as living legends for the game was an inspiration he is intent to following in his career as well. 

“It's important to train even if you're not batting. You just have to do that routine every time. After IPL I didn't bat for almost 20-25 days. I was just training, did my pool sessions. I just started my batting seven-eight days back. It's important to get into that rhythm. It's a long season ahead,” Rahane said.

“Preparation is something you can control; results you can't. If you see, even Sachin [Tendulkar] paaji or Rahul bhai used to prepare well before series. I saw Sachin paaji preparing here even before his 200th Test match. You have to have that dedication, that determination, that willingness to prepare.”

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