The smashing right-hander Ajinkya Rahane of Rajasthan, has tapered off in the last three games with scores of 17, 0 and 5 but he remains second only to Chris Gayle among the batting heavyweights with 480 runs at 43.63 in the competition.
Nobody has hit more fours (63) than him and only two others, besides him, have hit centuries. In an interview with PTI, the 24-year-old Mumbaikar weighed his recent success and the reasons behind it, as well as the opportunities which would follow in its wake.
"Well, it has come as a surprise. I have only done my part and the rest has been destiny. To top the charts in a competition like IPL is really a proud achievement for me. But I would have really loved to see my team to be in a better position than it is," he said.
Rahane played for Mumbai Indians as well which at the time was a team full of stars - Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga -- before moving to Rajasthan Royals, a team not with many big names.
"Actually I was learning a lot in Mumbai Indians with my idol Sachin Paaji around but then wasn't getting many chances. Here in RR things were different, I had a role to play, there were expectations off me. And also I was happy to be around my other idol, Rahul Dravid. It's a pleasure talking cricket to Rahul bhai," he explained.
Talking about Dravid, how did it feel making his Twenty20 debut in the same game as Dravid against England?
"You know it is funny that once there was a game in Mumbai when India were playing a Test match," Rahane said.
"I was glad to be a ball boy in that game to catch a glimpse of my heroes Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. I did see them closely but if I had a mobile phone in those times I would have clicked some pictures as well. In fact I was too shy to speak to them at all. And here I was making my T20 debut with Rahul Dravid.
"It is difficult to describe. I remember MS Dhoni, Sachin paaji and Rahul bhai talking to me before the game and telling me that I am playing for India because I deserve to. It was a matter of giving confidence and they did just that," he added.
Asked how his life changed since that day, Rahane said he remains the person and values the money that he earns now. "Well, my approach to life hasn't changed at all. I am the same Ajinkya for everyone around me. But coming from a lower-middle class family I did understand the value of money. I remember my parents had sacrificed so much so that I could continue my cricket."
"I remember I use to travel for two and a half hours one side to train at an academy. So 4 to 5 hours were gone in travelling by train. So we all have worked hard for my career and I am glad that it worked," he said.
On how it feel to see his hoardings around Jaipur, Rahane said, "Well it does feel nice. I use to see hoardings of other cricketers and use to wonder if there would be a day when I'd have one too. And now there are. Sometimes I feel as if I am dreaming."
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