Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer has hinted that the Indian team management's 11th-hour move to release Ajinkya Rahane from national duty to play the Ranji Trophy tie against Karnataka here at Brabourne Stadium starting today was because they wanted him match-fit ahead of a potential Test debut against West Indies at Wankhede Stadium next week.
Rahane, who arrived in the city late on Tuesday night, was at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) nets at 9am yesterday. "We are very happy to have Ajinkya back in the side. The Board has given him permission to join us. But I think it was the coach (Duncan Fletcher), who probably asked him to go and play some first-class cricket as he might play the third Test (at Wankhede next week) if India win the second Test (underway at Eden Gardens). That's what I think anyway.
"Maybe, he's here for match practice before the third Test where he could make his debut," Jaffer told reporters here yesterday. "This is also an important game for him to go to Australia (when Indian tour Down Under next month)," he said.
Jaffer described the clash with Karnataka as a battle between the best. "It's a very important game for us. This is a contest between the two best sides. Karnataka has been playing very good cricket in the last three-four years. "It's a particularly big game for Ajit (Agarkar). He's playing for us after a very long time. He took a fifer against Karnataka at Mysore the last time around. We are hoping to bank on his experience," said the hosts' skipper.