Eyes on the ball. Mind in the game. Less talk. More runs.
When the flamboyant Virat Kohli was basking in public glory at the MCG, Ajinkya Rahane was batting as if in trance. Calm, focused and undeterred, he kept the scoreboard ticking with his hard work. In no time, he had racked up another Test hundred – first against Australia and the third of his career – all three away from home, in testing conditions against different opponents. Rahane’s formula is simple. He doesn’t believe in big talk. He pulls, he cuts, he smacks, he drives and he lets you do the thinking. He may not be a charmer, but his monk-like temperament in pressure situations makes him a tough nut to crack. His technique is rock solid, his shot-making is remarkable. He had to wait for his chance longer than anyone else, and he’s making it count every single time. Don’t go by his diminutive figure, he is in fact growing in stature.
Rahane’s Test debut in the 2013 home series against Australia was agonizing. Was he nervous? Maybe. The whole idea of playing Test cricket for the first time can be overwhelming. But he wasted no time and quickly bounced back on the tour of South Africa later that year. He finished with a 60-plus average against the Steyn-led bowling attack, including a gritty 96. The hundred was around the corner. It was in early 2014 that Rahane displayed his true class, when every other batsman seemed to be falling apart. His 118 at Wellington was the first century by an Indian at No. 7, outside the subcontinent in over 15 years. Later, in only his first outing at Lord’s, Rahane ensured his name gets on to the Honors Board with a Test hundred, that too, on a green top. The fifties kept coming as well.
Since 2013, Rahane has been on four overseas tours, and already boasts of an average that almost touches 50. His consistent run-scoring away from home might just lessen half the burden from Kohli’s shoulders. With the kind of dedication and focus that Rahane exhibits, he’s capable of surprising us more often than not. We may be in awe of Kohli’s supreme knocks, but it is equally important to acknowledge the ones who quietly do their job. Mumbai’s opening batsman is now emerging as India’s middle-order mainstay. It is a sign of good things to come.
Ajinkya Rahane is a player meant for the big stage, but he prefers grinding it out in the shadows.