How long train journeys helped Rahane's batting!

Hardships can either make or break you. Fortunately, it was the latter that happened to Ajinkya Rahane, currently the toast of the Indian Premier League’s fifth edition. If travelling in local trains is a nightmare for any other Mumbaikar, then imagine the plight of cricketers coming from far suburbs with their huge kitbags. The Rajasthan Royals super bat revealed how the terrifying train journeys from Dombivali to CST over the years have helped him become gritty and determined to achieve success.

Ton up: Rajasthan Royals’ Ajinkya Rahane after reaching 100 against the Royal Challengers in Bangalore recently. Pic/AFP

Local issues
“We all know travelling in Mumbai’s local trains is not easy. With the cricket kitbag it is all the more difficult. Nearly four hours used to go in travelling during the day. If you got out early, it would hurt a lot. I used to get very upset because I couldn’t play for long after coming from so far for the match.

“But all that only made me more determined and mentally tougher for future challenges. I used practice hard in the nets to ensure that I don’t repeat those mistakes,” Rahane told MiD DAY during an exclusive chat yesterday.

Rahane, who has played 11 ODIs and two T20Is for India, is a strong believer of nothing is impossible. “The cricketing infrastructure is not so great there (Dombivali), but if you are determined and willing to work hard for your goals, then you can chase all your dreams,” added Rahane, who started his cricketing journey under coach Rajan Dhotre.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Rahane in this IPL. Ever since his wondrous 98 in Rajasthan Royals’ opening game against Punjab, the right-hander has gone from strength-to-strength in the remaining five matches. He became the first player in the IPL to smack six fours in an over (off S Aravind) en route his match-winning unbeaten 103 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. “I never thought or had any intention to hit every ball for a four. I just concentrated and played each ball as it came along,” he said.

Rahane, however, doesn’t want to get carried away. “We have only played six matches. It is still a long way to go (in the tournament). I am eager to keep scoring in the same manner and help my team win matches. I don’t want to get carried away. We all know cricket is a funny game.

“You have to start afresh irrespective of whether you scored a hundred in the last game. I don’t want to take anything lightly at the moment,” said the IPL’s Orange Cap-holder for being the highest scorer (304 runs). “I have to keep working hard and maintain the consistency. The season is panning out very nicely for the team,” added the 23-year-old.

Rahane has also debunked the general thinking that he is not suitable for T20 cricket. He achieved a strike-rate of over 146 without compromising on his classical touch. Majority of his runs have come from drives, cuts and pulls rather than hard slogs.

Basic improvement
“It helps if your basics are in place, and be calm and composed in the middle. Everyone’s game is different. I am comfortable with the way I play. I just stick to it and look to improve with every game,” he said. Rahane said he is learning how to keep batting simple from his idol and Rajasthan Royals skipper Rahul Dravid. “One of the biggest things that I have learned from him is how to keep your batting simple. I have enjoyed each and every moment shared with Rahul Dravid, both on and off the field. I am honoured to open the innings with him. There is so much to learn from him…even how to behave in public. It has been a great learning experience so far,” Rahane signed off. 

Ajinkya Rahane in IPL-V so far...
>> 98 vs Kings XI Punjab
>>  0 vs Kolkata Knight Riders 
>>  40 vs Mumbai Indians 
>>  19 vs Kolkata Knight Riders
>>  103* vs Royal Challengers Bangalore 
>>  44 vs Deccan Chargers 

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