Why Ajinkya Rahane will be a perfect fit at CSK

Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni in IPL 2019
Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni in IPL 2019

Ajinkya Rahane will have his eyes set on the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction for all the right reasons this weekend. With the hope of rejuvenating his white-ball career, the former Indian vice-captain will have quite a few potential suitors at auction.

Despite looking in fine touch with the bat, Rahane has faced scrutiny for his indifferent form in recent times. He will be hoping to get picked by a franchise that optimizes his potential adequately.

Every side in the IPL has its own culture and methods of building teams. Some like the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), believe in assembling star-studded squads every season. Meanwhile, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) look to be extremely data-driven with a focus on advanced player analytics.

When CSK buys a player at auction, data & analytics barely add 10% to strategy. 90% is vibe. Faf du Plessis wasn’t any team’s first-choice T20 opener. Murli Vijay was apparently a Test opener. Shane Watson was apparently too old. Shahrukh Khan was playing List A cricket. (13/25)

Given the circumstances, it seems that the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) might be an ideal fit for a player of Rahane’s stature and caliber.

CSK, over the years, has evolved into a side that has all the characteristics of its captain. MS Dhoni’s cool, calm demeanor, along with the ability to deliver in high-pressure situations, has trickled down within the entire setup.

It wouldn’t be surprising if CSK pursue further success with a similar formula. They can do so by acquiring players possessing likewise qualities and temperament.

The franchise has held on to four players from their previous title-winning season. They will be in the hunt for more such individuals who arguably represent the traits and values that CSK is identified with.

Ajinkya Rahane is one such character. A dignified individual, he lets the bat do the talking and is a tough nut with nerves of steel. He is reliable, has patience and can be trusted to do a job consistently.

At 33, Rahane is at a ripe age to join a team that respects seasoned players and uses their know-how to excel in the league.

Rahane’s struggles in recent times have arguably been due to the amount of intense criticism that he is subjected to regularly. Players like him flourish best when they operate in a surrounding that is affable and offers a sense of security to the cricketers.

At CSK, Ajinkya Rahane will get just that. The franchise is renowned for extracting the maximum value out of its players. They place trust in certain individuals and back them to the hilt irrespective of the circumstances.

At the top, Rahane can be given the task of going against the pacers and making the most of the powerplay overs. Dhoni is a big advocate of capitalizing on good starts and Rahane has the temperament to do the same consistently.

He will also relish working under the ideal captain-coach duo of Dhoni and Stephan Fleming. It is important to note that one of Rahane’s most successful seasons in 2016 came while playing under the duo for the Rising Pune Super Giant.

Ajinkya Rahane played under Fleming and Dhoni during his time with RPSG
Ajinkya Rahane played under Fleming and Dhoni during his time with RPSG

Ajinkya Rahane amassed 480 runs, including six half-centuries at an average of 43.64 back in that campaign. These are the kinds of performances that he is capable of delivering when given suitable backing and support.

Moreover, CSK has a knack for getting the most out of such players time and again. Nobody gave much of a chance to Robin Uthappa prior to the previous IPL campaign. However, he proved to be extremely decisive for Chennai with crunch knocks in the final two playoff games.

There’s a great chance that they can carry out a similar strategy with Ajinkya Rahane given his credentials at the top of the order.

Additionally, the dynamics of the mega-auction is such that teams have to assemble a lot of players for the years ahead. They cannot go around issuing big pay-cheques to only a few star players as it would make any squad too lopsided.

Instead, the strategy will be to acquire a number of players for decent amounts and then supplement their abilities with the retained picks. CSK are masters at this game. They will wisely go about picking certain players for specific roles and not get carried away by any outside talk.

With a base price of Rs 1 crore, Rahane brings a lot of value, potential and experience to the CSK setup.

Can CSK groom Ajinkya Rahane for a future captaincy role?

Ajinkya Rahane has all the characteristics of a typical CSK player and also has several years of cricket left in him. Rahane has also proven to be an extremely astute leader in challenging circumstances for the Indian Test team.

CSK is staring at a potential captaincy change in the near future. In that case, they will need someone to step up and assume whole-hearted responsibility.

If one looks closely, both Dhoni’s and Rahane’s captaincy abilities have quite a few similarities. They are undeterred by outside chatter, remain calm from the exterior but have a killer winning instinct within. Rahane can be a great choice at the very least on an interim basis or during a transitional period.

There will many stars on offer at the IPL auction. However, CSK has shown in the past that smart choices and not big names determine the success of a franchise. Ajinkya Rahane will definitely be a smart and beneficial pick for CSK.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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