Perth: Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni feels that talented Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane is one player who has improved by leaps and bounds in recent times and is ready to don any hat for the team's cause.
His 60-ball-79 against South Africa was as important in the final context of the match as Shikhar Dhawan's explosive century.
Test centuries at Wellington, Lord's and Melbourne bear hallmark of his class and his skipper is the first one to acknowledge that Rahane is fast emerging into a force to be reckoned with in limited overs format as well.
"Well, there has been improvement, irrespective of the format. In Twenty20, ODIs or as a Test player, he (Rahane) has really improved," Dhoni said yesterday.
According to Dhoni, the biggest advantage that Rahane enjoys is his flexibility and readiness to new ideas.
Ajinkya Rahane in action against South Africa at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
"Rahane is definitely one of the individuals who is not really rigid. He is quite open to ideas," he added.
The skipper said Rahane always gives him feedback after trying out a new strategy or idea.
"Once he tries out a new idea, he gives you a good response as to whether it's working for him. Also he's one of the fittest guys.
"You see him on the field. He's very quick and his intensity never drops, right from the first over until the 90th over if you see a Test match, which, to me, is what fitness is all about," Dhoni said.
Dhoni has always been generous in his praise for his colleagues but when it came to Rahane, the skipper was in a mood to dissect the qualities that made him stand out in the pack.
"He's not someone who owns a particular (fielding) position. In a sense, he's not somebody, who only wants to field in the cover position. Wherever, there is an opportunity, he's willing to go there. Whether it is at boundary line, covers or leg slip, anywhere. So it becomes slightly easy for a captain," the skipper
"The strength in his (Rahane's) batting is the gift of timing and his ability to exploit gaps in the field to an extent. It's really good to see him get the kind of runs. More importantly, how he has been getting those runs," Dhoni said.