Ajinkya Rahane had batted in the top-three all his life before he was converted into a middle-order batsman for India. Often batting at five in Tests and four in ODIs, Rahane was called upon to revisit the opening slot in the third ODI against England, at Trent Bridge to replace the injured Rohit Sharma.
And the Mumbai lad responded with a bristling 45 (56 balls) laced with attractiveness and aggression in equal measure. While his knock set the tone for India’s six-wicket win, Rahane was aware that he once again had wasted a fine start.
After his match-winning century in the Lord’s Test, Rahane has gone past 20 five times without converting it into a three-figure mark. In the second ODI too, he got out for 41.
In an interview with BCCI.TV, Rahane said these numbers are not lost on him. He vowed to sort the issue out. With his current form, he was confident that a big one is around the corner.
How was it opening the batting after so long?
I was really excited and enjoyed opening again. I knew I was batting well and I know the conditions well by now. I went in with a very positive mindset. I knew the ball swings a bit initially but I decided that I wouldn’t go into my shell. My first priority will be to score runs. I was determined to play my shots.
How do you have to adjust your mindset with the change in batting position?
When you’ve been batting at four and suddenly open for a match, it does require a lot of change in the mindset. To face the new ball, you need to go in with a different attitude as you would when you walk in to bat in the middle overs. However, it wasn’t that difficult for me because I am familiar with the opening slot.
You batted with two batsmen – Shikhar and Virat – who haven’t scored too many runs recently. As the in-form partner, what role do you play when batting with them?
Shikhar was actually batting well today. In ODI cricket, sometimes, even a good shot can get you out. I thought the shot that he got out to wasn’t a bad one. He played it well and it came from the middle of the bat. Unfortunately it went straight into the hands of the fielder.
As for Virat, there is nothing wrong with him. He is a fine player and he is actually looking good while he is out there batting. It’s tough on him that he is getting out cheaply despite batting well. This phase will only make him a much better cricketer. I don’t need to do much when it comes to giving him confidence as his batting partner because Virat is very aware of his game. He knows what he is doing and his confidence comes from that. The only discussion Virat and I had was that we will not let the England bowlers dominate us.
After the Lord’s century, one common factor about your innings is that you get a start and then get out softly. Is it a lapse in concentration?
To be honest, I too am wondering why this is happening with me and that too, so often. I think I need to make a conscious effort to bat very tight once I reach that stage of my innings. Saying that, I also need to ensure I don’t stop scoring completely and keep the run-flow going. I generally have a good concentration level and the lapses don’t happen often. This is a very strange phase for me. But I know that it is just a matter of one innings before I get past this issue. Once I cross the 50-60 mark, I am pretty sure I can go on to score a big one.
The team looks like a totally changed unit. The spring in the stride is back and the fielding is wonderful. What has changed?
The new boys who have joined the team, have brought in a lot of fresh energy. Also, talking about the fielding, we are a very good fielding side. Yes we didn’t do well in the Tests but that doesn’t make us a bad fielding unit. Mohit affected a brilliant run-out today and Raina took a superb catch in slip. We have made a conscious effort to be energetic on the field and back each other. Even while practicing, we are doing it with the same intensity that is required in a match. We were really hurt after what happened in the Test series but we knew that we have to move on. We helped each other in getting over the hurt and to channel our focus on the ODI series. When we won the second ODI, we prepared for this ODI from the scratch.
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