New Delhi: It has been a breakthrough season for Ajinkya Rahane as 2013-14 has seen him cement his spot in India`s Test side but the talented Rajasthan Royals batsman wants to "keep his feet" grounded and says every day is a "learning experience" for him.
Rahane`s talent was never in question but he only started to blossom from last year`s IPL, which earned him a spot in India`s tough tours of South Africa and New Zealand where he was the only Indian batsman to succeed, apart from Virat Kohli. "I really learnt a lot from last year. My performance in last year`s IPL gave me immense confidence to take on world-class bowlers. Obviously those two tours (of South Africa and New Zealand) were important for my career and I am glad that I really did well," Rahane told PTI in an interview.
"It is always a challenge to play on overseas tours because of different conditions and quality attacks. I am glad that I did well on those tours but I would like to keep my feet on the ground and keep learning day by day," said the 25-year-old right-hander, who scored his maiden Test century in Wellington earlier this year.
Despite the abundance of talent though, Rahane hasn`t been able to cement his place in India`s limited overs set-up. He did come alive in the Asia Cup with two half-centuries but failed to fire in the closing stages of the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh. The soft-spoken batsman was more disappointed for the team than his own failures.
"I wasn`t thinking about myself, I was thinking about the team. I was really disappointed because we lost the World Cup. I was really batting well at that point but didn`t capitalise on those scores," said Rahane about his three outings in T20 World Cup.
Opening the batting, Rahane has so far notched up two half-centuries out of seven games in the ongoing IPL and the Mumbai lad said he is relishing the role of a senior batsman in the Rajasthan Royals set-up. "I am not taking any pressure on myself. I am just enjoying this opportunity to learn as much as possible from all the senior players. I just want to enjoy this new responsibility," he said.
Rahane rose to prominence while playing under Rahul Travis in last year`s IPL. He feels there is harldy anything to differentiate between current skipper Shane Watson and his predecessor as far as leadership qualities are concerned. "Shane (Watson) and Rahul bhai are equally same as captain. They both are really cool and calm on the field and take their decisions very firmly. So, I don`t think Shane is feeling any pressure and he is leading the Royals really well. It`s an honour to play under his captaincy," he said.
The Royals were at the centre of last year`s IPL spot-fixing scandal because of the alleged involvement of three of their players -- S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankit Chavan and Rahane said the episode is a thing of the past. "The atmosphere right now is really good. We have 10 players who played last year and 15 new players. Obviously the first few days were slightly different and it took time to adjust with the new players. But all the players have really gelled together well. We are a happy family now and looking great as a unit," he said.
Jaipur`s Sawai Man Singh Stadium has been Royals` home base since the first edition of IPL but this year the team will miss their fortress as the BCCI has scheduled all its four home matches at Motera, Ahmedabad. "In Jaipur we really did well. That was our home ground till last year, we really enjoyed playing there but certain things we can`t control as a professional cricketer," Rahane said about the stadium where Royals won all their home matches in IPL 2013.
"But everyone is really enjoying being in Ahmedabad. As a professional we want to do well in Ahmedabad as we did in Jaipur. One game we won in Ahmedabad. We have three more games there and we hope we can keep the winning juggernaut going."