Playing against Pakistan is special: Rahane
In this age of fast-forward success, Ajinkya Rahane can proudly boast of having actually earned his India cap. After being on the fringes for a long time, the classical Mumbai batsman was pencilled in to the ODI team in England last year.
Rahane had played 12 ODIs and five T20Is before he experienced something he’d only visualised and dreamt of – playing against Pakistan while wearing the national colours. His dream came true when he came out to open India’s batting with Gautam Gambhir in the first T20I of this series in Bengaluru. Rahane scored 42 off 31 balls in a 77-run opening partnership.
In the second game, at Ahmedabad, Rahane got 28 and formed a 44-run opening stand with Gambhir. After India won the match by 11 runs to level the two-match series, Rahane spoke to bcci.tv about the feeling of being a part of an India-Pakistan encounter and his yearning for converting starts into big scores.
This was your first match against Pakistan. How was the experience?
It was a very special experience for me playing against Pakistan for the first time. During both these matches, the team’s enthusiasm was completely different. It feels very special to win today against Pakistan.
Cricketers often dismiss the pressure by terming contests against Pakistan as just another match. Is it really so?
Off the field everything remains the same, but the moment you enter the ground, things change. There’s much more pressure when you’re playing against Pakistan. The team effort goes high as it was during both these matches, although we lost in Bengaluru.
You opened the batting with Rahul Dravid in the IPL and now you come in with Gautam Gambhir. Does the different nature of your partners have an impact on your game?
I try to back my own game irrespective of the partner I’m batting with. Like Rahul sir, Gauti Bhai also guides me through the innings. When playing against Pakistan, Gauti Bhai comes in with a more aggressive mood, although he doesn’t show it.
With your kind of talent and temperament, don’t you think you should look to stay at the crease for long and not give it away after scoring 20s and 40s?
That’s always the plan – to bat big. But at times you have to back your instincts, especially in T20s where you’re expected to play your shots to maintain the run-rate. Having said that, after getting set, I need to convert the starts into big scores. I scored 42 in the last match and got out on 28 today. In the coming matches I will try harder to bat longer.
You were preparing for Tests during the India-England series but didn’t play a game. Then you were asked to open in T20Is. Was it tough to adapt?
Adaptation from one format to another is entirely a mind game. If you’re mentally prepared to face any situation, it’s not that difficult to adapt. However, being able to make that adjustment is very crucial. I always try to play proper cricketing shots in T20s. The opposition always think that the batsmen come to slog in T20s and they make their plans accordingly. They hardly expect someone to score runs by playing orthodox shots.
How was it facing someone as tall as Mohammad Irfan?
It was the first time that I faced such a tall bowler and it was difficult negotiating him at first. And since we hadn’t seen him before, the plan between Gauti bhai and I was to just see him off and keep rotating the strike against him. Then, we could look to dominate the other bowlers.