Ajinkya Rahane has many memorable knocks to his credit in his 18-Test career. His journey began with an unbeaten 51 versus South Africa in his maiden overseas series in 2013. It was followed with a fine 118 in New Zealand.
Ajinkya Rahane at MCA's BKC ground yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
Then came the match-winning 103 in the 2014 Lord's Test. His fighting 147 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last December and his latest 126-run second innings knock that helped India square the series 1-1 against Sri Lanka in the second Test. All these knocks make him one of India's finest batsmen during overseas tours in the last couple of years.
Rahane attributes his success to the habit of maintaining a diary of every knock ever since he started playing competitive cricket. He also opens up about his stellar rise in Test cricket, captaining India and his game-changing knock in an interview to mid-day.
On his success mantra:
There are a lot of things happening and you cannot remember everything. But once you write about how you were feeling or what was your mindset or intent while playing a particular knock, it helps you to understand different mindsets from innings to innings. I keep a note of every knock even if I get out for zero. If you write about only good innings then you don't understand the difference in your approach. This comes in handy during a bad patch.
On his game-changing knock:
(Takes a long pause) The century at Lord's was a good confidence-booster, but the 38 not out at Sydney in the second innings which saved us the Test was a game-changer for me. That innings gave me the confidence that I can handle any situation.
On his experience of leading Team India in Zimbabwe:
I had a good experience of successfully leading the team in Zimbabwe. We enjoyed each other's performances. We wanted to play a certain brand of cricket. Every individual performed and contributed in the team's success which was very pleasing as a captain. I was quite impressed with the boys' attitude because for me the attitude and intent on the ground is important. I am more mature after leading the team to victory in Zimbabwe. You learn a lot and you become more matured after dealing with various situations as a leader. That confidence I carried to Sri Lanka and it helped a lot. Virat (Kohli) would often ask me what should be our plan. We shared our ideas with him and supported him and backed him. I went as a matured and experienced cricketer to Sri Lanka.
On his preparation before any series:
My preparation starts 15-20 days before the series. I start visualising about the attack I am going to face and where I am playing. I have been lucky to get enough time to prepare before all the series. I would like to give an example here: When you are well prepared for your exams, you don't worry about how the question paper is going to be. But if you have not prepared well, then you start worrying about the kind of questions that might come. Cricket is also very similar. When you prepare well, you don't worry about what will happen on the field. But when you are not prepared, you start thinking about the conditions. I have always believed in preparing as hard as I can in my practice sessions so that it is comparatively easy for me in the matches. I meditate and focus on breathing pattern. Switching off from cricket is equally important. Before hitting the bed, I think about how the day went for me. After I get all my answers to the questions, I don't think about cricket after that. I read books or sometimes watch movies or listen to music to switch off as well. I ensure I go to bed with a clear mind and not many thoughts.
On the South Africa series:
It will be very challenging. Advantage will be with us. I am excited to play at home after a long time. It is important to respect them even if we are playing at home. They are a good team.
Tests - 18
Runs - 1353
Highest score - 147
Average - 43.64
Strike Rate - 56.35
Hundreds - 4
Fifties - 7