Ajinkya Rahane’s straight drive
Mumbai, Nov 3: In an era where batsmen often tend to go for the big hits, Ajinkya Rahane has been impressing with his ability to score by playing text book cricket shots. The mature 24-year-old says that by hitting over the top he is likely to get the same amount of runs at a greater risk and so has taught himself to curb that instinct and play along the ground. He has so far done that with success in all the formats of the game.
Rahane’s temperament and knack for accumulating runs has been appreciated by experts and senior cricketers. On the first day of the Ranji Trophy 2012-13 season, the Mumbai top-order bat once again displayed his ability to play long innings while batting alongside Sachin Tendulkar at the Wankhede Stadium against Railways. He played some beautiful drives as he anchored the innings. A keen student of the game, he has been working hard and learning by watching the Little Master at work. He has also been working on implementing the inputs he has received from Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid to improve his skills.
With his batting display the unassuming batsman, has been building a strong case for a place in the national side. After posting an unbeaten century and building a 200-run partnership with Tendulkar, Rahane spoke about his batting with bcci.tv.
Excerpts from his interview:
What did Tendulkar say to you when you got your 100?
He said ‘I am proud of you and keep playing like this.’
Playing shots along the ground has been one of your strengths and when in your flow you find gaps with ease. How have you worked on it?
I try to keep things as simple as possible. I know that even if I hit in the air, the most I will get is six runs; but the more I play down the ground, the lesser the risk, and runs you get are ultimately the same. So my mindset is to play down the ground as much as possible.
When I am training in the nets I practice with throw downs. I practice to play as straight as possible and the more balls I face during knocking and net sessions the better it is for me.
Are you tempted to hit over the top or take the aerial route?
Of course there is temptation. As a human being you are tempted, but how you control yourself is important. I just tell myself to wait for the loose ball. Only if I feel a ball is worth hitting will I hit it.
What is your favourite shot, why? How have you worked on it or working on it to perfect the shot?
The straight drive! And I have learnt that from watching him [Tendulkar]. In the nets I particularly ask someone to bowl [throw downs] at me and try to hit them straight. The more I do that the more the body gets used to it.
Tell us about the one shot that you would like to add to your repertoire?
You are always trying to improve your game and it goes on improving. A lot depends on what surface you are playing on and where you are playing and what kind of shots you need to play [in the situation]. Currently, I am trying to keep things simple.
What would you count as your other strengths?
The straight drive and the cover drive… just like I was playing today. But still, one is tries to improve on something or the other every day. My aim is to improve something or the other in my batting always.
You have received tips from Rahul Dravid while playing in the IPL; have you spoken to him about batting in the longer formats?
When we were playing the Test series against the touring West Indies side and also when we were in Australia, we had spoken about batting in the longer format. Yes, I did receive tips for batting in T20 from him and also for Test matches. He told me that the initial period is crucial for any batsman, so if you play through that, after that your instincts take over. So after that back yourself and play your natural game.
What was it like batting with Tendulkar?
Getting to bat with him today and the partnership [was very good]. What he told me between overs was very important.
You have spent the past few days in nets training with Tendulkar. What have you learnt?
He is very professional and his passion for his game is very important. Even now, after playing for so many years his commitment towards the game is exemplary; all that is worth learning from him.
How important is this game for you, especially with a long international season at home ahead?
This match is definitely very important and also the last knock that I played against England XI, scoring 54 runs gave me confidence. I always knew at the back of my mind that this would be an important game for me but I wasn’t thinking about the runs; I was trying to enjoy my game.
How crucial is the performance in Ranji matches for staking a claim in the national team?
Ranji Trophy is very important, the domestic season is important and this being the first match [doing well now] gives you the momentum. I feel the domestic season is very important.
The onus of carrying forward Mumbai's batting legacy would right now be resting on your and Rohit Sharma’s shoulders
I try to enjoy it. I try not to take pressure. And Rohit is also a very talented player and I enjoy batting with him. I get to learn a lot from him as well, so it is a good thing.
How do you prepare yourself ahead of a season when you might play a domestic match and later have to turn up for an international game or be part of the team and have to wait your turn?
I focus on playing one match at a time and try to perform and score consistently in whichever match I get to play.