Rahane: The next big thing in Indian cricket

By Biswajit Jha | Updated: May 02, 2012, 08:28 AM IST

Biswajit Jha

Many people who don’t follow cricket that closely may find it surprising to see Ajinkya Rahane’s name at the top of the IPL 5’s top run getters list. But, those who follow the domestic circuit regularly would know that Rahane has been a prolific performer in the last five years for Mumbai and there is nothing unusual about him having set the IPL on fire.

In the ten matches in IPL 5 so far, he has scored over 450 runs with a breathtaking unbeaten century against Royal Challengers Bangalore and a classy 98 against Kings XI Punjab in the very first match of the season. His shot making talent without being unorthodox has earned him enormous praise from experts. Like many great batsmen, Rahane can adjust himself easily to the demands of different formats.

There was no doubt about his potential as a Test batsman. In fact, he was shortlisted as one of the junior players, along with Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, who could replace the ageing stars in the Test team a few years back. His Bradmanesque record in the domestic cricket, where he amassed 4862 runs in 50 first class matches at an average of close to 70, is nothing but phenomenal. Those who saw him making those runs over the last five seasons were very sure about his call up into the Indian team. The only question was when.

The Team India call up finally came, albeit in shorter formats. It’s ironic that he started his international career in a T20 international match. And it’s really funny that he is getting recognized for his exploits in the IPL 5 despite already proving himself as a successful batsman and a prolific run-scorer in domestic cricket.

Though he started his international career on a positive note, hitting 61 against England at Manchester, and played 11 ODIs subsequently at an average of little over 30 with two half-centuries with 91 being his best, he found himself out of the Indian team after the home series against West Indies.

Rahane was not new to this situation. Despite having scored heavily in the domestic circuit, he repeatedly found himself out of the Indian team. In a season when he was the highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy, he saw Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja getting the coveted the Indian cap ahead of him.

He could have easily been heartbroken. He could have stopped putting that extra effort on the field. But like a true champion, he kept on scoring runs wherever and whenever he got the opportunity. After knocking the door for a few years, he virtually broke open the door of the Team India. He forced the selectors to look at him.

Rahane took the run scoring route again after finding himself out of the Team Indian. A player, who has always believed in letting his bat do all the talking, he went to the domestic cricket and played some good innings out of the vicinity of international cricket.

Unfortunate as it may sound, the performances in the domestic circuit are not easily recognized as compared to the IPL. Knowing the fact, this Mumbai batsman, who plays for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, has chosen the T20 platform this time to showcase his talent. Having scored fabulously in the every format of the game it’s high time that he should be given a longer go in all three formats. There is hardly any doubt that he will serve the Indian cricket in days to come.