Ajinkya Rahane, who had been travelling with the Test squad for more than two years, finally won his India cap against Australia earlier this year. MS Dhoni’s men thrashed the visitors 4-0, recording their best ever performance against the Aussies, but Rahane could not do much with the bat, scoring 7 and 1 respectively in the two innings of the Delhi Test.
He is yet to feature in a five-day game since, but Sandeep Patil & Co have reposed faith in him and the stroke-maker finds himself on the plane to South Africa as a member of both the ODI and Test squads. Rahane could not have asked for a better send-off, hitting 133 and putting Mumbai in a position of immense strength against Vidarbha in their Ranji Trophy game at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. The hosts have all but sealed the match with the visitors struggling at 177-8 in pursuit of a massive 530.
Rahane sounded buoyant after the knock saying: “Before going to South Africa, this game was crucial for me in terms of match practice. So I was just focussing on getting my rhythm back and giving my hundred per cent for the team.” Not willing to get into the finer details of his preparations for the important series, Rahane said: “I have been practicing before this game for the South Africa tour, but from the last four days I am focussing on this game and on my batting.”
Given the pace at which Aditya Tare and Rahane were scoring on Saturday, Vidarbha spread out the field in order to cut down the flow of runs, but that had little effect. Did he find their attack weak? “I won’t say their attack wasn’t good. Umesh (Yadav) is an experienced bowler. They had Srikanth (Wagh) and other bowlers. A bowler needs just one ball to get a wicket, so batsmen have to concentrate on every delivery.
“I was looking to get set and spend a lot of time at the wicket. When they spread the field, it became a bit difficult and I was constantly telling myself that this is the time to show focus, to show some hunger.” Rahane believed this knock will hold him in good stead and only add to his confidence. “It was a very crucial knock. It was also important from the team’s point of view as we wanted to win the match outright. I will take a lot of confidence from this innings.”
Rahane missed out on a big score in the first innings, getting out for one, but was glad to make up in the next outing. “In the first innings too, I was looking to spend time at the crease but getting out is not in your hands. “You should have the right attitude and right intention and that is what matters. Scoring a hundred in the second innings is as special as scoring a hundred in the first innings. I am happy the way I am batting and the way our team is playing.”