Ajinkya Rahane: An unmeasured assassin of Team India
In the last five years, many young and talented cricketers have joined the Indian cricket team, who carry a different character and approach towards the way they play the game. Even then, most of them can easily be fitted under the category of flamboyant or bashing cricketers.
The new generation is aggressive, flashy, outspoken and is also well known for their on-field antics. Among them, there is another cricketer from Mumbai, who carries an altogether different demeanor. Yet Rahane's batting has aggression under the calm head.
Batting or bowling style of a cricketer is a great reflection of his personality. And Mumbaikar Ajinkya Madhukar Rahane, is no different. That’s one of the reasons why most of the oppositions commit mistaks of taking him lightly or giving attention to others, which makes him an unmeasured assassin of Team India.
In last couple of years, Rahane has emerged as a crisis man for Team India. Even in the presence of dashing and dynamic cricketers -- Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan among others, he has made a name for himself.
He has emerged as a complete batsman in all formats of the game. Here are five factors that make this true gentleman of the game, a real asset for Indian cricket.
Crisis man: In a very short span of his career, Rahane has slammed six Test tons in 22 matches. All of them are worth talking about, as they came during the overseas tours, albeit his last two tons in Kotla, Delhi, which came at home. The twin tons helped India beat South Africa in the fourth and last Test of the Freedom series. Frequent changes in the batting order has not affected his consistency with the willow, which has now become a hallmark of his blossoming career. The way he took the responsibility on his shoulders to defy bowlers on the Kotla track, where most of the batsmen from both teams found it difficult to score, was yet another example of the calibre he possesses.
Safest pair of hands: In world cricket, Indians are not counted as best slip fielders. The safest slip fielder India has ever produced thus far is Rahul Dravid who grew as one of the best in the world. Now, it seems that Rahane has taken over the responsibility from his mentor. The 27-year-old has set high standards at the slip cordon. This crucial position demands a high level of concentration and technique, which Rahane possesses. The marvellous closing fielder even made a world-record by taking eight catches in an innings against Sri Lanka in 2015.
Switching approach: The toughest thing for modern-day cricketers is to switch from one format to another, especially if one carries a traditional batting approach. But Rahane has proved time and again that he can easily switch to any format, that too with ease. From gruelling sessions in Tests, to the slam-bang version of T20, Rahane has graduated with distinction. He has not only slammed tons consistently in whites, but has also made a huge reputation in the most popular Twenty20 league – IPL, which shows his sheer class. Recent spending of 9.5 crore by new IPL franchise Team Pune, shows Rahane’s growing stature.
Calm and Composed: In the recent past, the fight between Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahane, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul became a stiff affair for batting slots in Test team. Rahane didn’t show any signs of nervousness. He was consistently shuffled in the batting order, which could easily unsettle a batsman. But Rahane kept his calm and let his bat do the talking. Again, when he missed the opportunity to pile up runs during the Mohali and Nagpur Tests, in a high-profile series against top-ranked Proteas, the 27-year-old came up with a bang in the final Test. In Kotla, where he made his Test debut in 2013, Rahane seized the moment and slammed a ton each in both innings to become the fifth Indian to achieve such feat after Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, and Virat Kohli.
Mix of Rahul and Tendulkar: Many cricket pundits are of the view that Rahane’s style of play and demeanour is quite similar to his now defunct Rajasthan Royals’ mentor Rahul Dravid. But when the Mumbaikar starts playing his shots freely, his style somewhat matches with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, who was more of a stroke player. Rahane plays the straight drive, a signature shot of Tendulkar, with ease. His rock solid defence is quite Dravid-esque, but his shot making certainly carries a shade or two of SRT. Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli once highlighted one of Rahane’s traits by saying - “One thing I have noticed is that the ball leaves his (Rahane’s) bat quicker than most people. That’s the trick he has. He has that timing and power, which most people don’t realise.” This statement defines Rahane’s batting in the best possible way.