There has been a lot of discussion about India's No.4 slot, as the team is one stop away from the 2019 World Cup. With all international fixtures done with, only the Indian Premier League (IPL) remains for the selectors to decide on who they wish to pick for the position. One man who is definitely in the running is Rajasthan Royals skipper Ajinkya Rahane.
Speaking to IANS, Rahane though made it clear that he isn`t over thinking about the World Cup. For the Mumbaikar, the process is more important than the final result and he wants to focus on doing well in the IPL as he feels that it will automatically take him closer to the goal of representing India in the showpiece event.
"The approach won`t be any different with the World Cup looming because at the end you are playing cricket, be it the IPL or any other tournament. You have to score runs and do well for the team. The most important thing will be to think about the Rajasthan Royals rather than thinking too much about the road ahead. See, if I do well in the IPL, the World Cup (spot) will automatically come."
"I feel it is important to express yourself and not take any undue pressure thinking about things which aren`t in your control. The focus is the IPL," he added.
Coming to the IPL, while Rahane was elevated to the captain`s role last time because regular skipper Steve Smith was banned, he will be the one leading the team this time. After a quality show last season, does the Rajasthan Royals skipper feel the pressure of expectations?
"No, not at all. The last year was really good for us, especially as we were coming back after two years and captaining RR was a great experience. I want to thank the management for supporting me and I don`t feel any pressure this year. It is important to play as a team and look to enjoy every moment as the IPL is a long tournament. There are players from different cultures and it is important to gel well and start on a positive note," he explained.
While Rahane and the Royals missed the services of Smith the last time, the skipper said that the team was really looking forward to welcoming the former Australian skipper this year. In fact, even the Australian team management will be expecting Smith to perform well and make a swift return to the side for the World Cup.
"We are all very excited to have him back. Initially, we didn`t know if he will be able to make it or not (due to the elbow injury). But when we were told he is coming, that was a boost because his experience and records are unbelievable. He has the ability to win the team matches and that is important for any team," he smiled.
Shane Warne might be the brand ambassador this time, but his role of mentoring the side last year also came as a huge boost for Rahane the skipper as he had the former Australian spinner to back him and help with strategising.
"The experience with Warne was brilliant. My first season was his last season as a player. Picking his mind is very important because he is a legend. He was always involved and kept strategising with us. He loves talking cricket and as a team, we have learned a lot just as I have personally learned," he shared.
A chat with "Jinx" (as he is called by friends and teammates) is incomplete without speaking about the journey of India`s Test team this season and India`s Test deputy is a proud man.
"I think this was really special as we all know how difficult it is to win in Australia. This is one of the biggest achievements for us because going and winning a Test series on foreign soil isn`t easy. Starting well is very important and that is what we did in Australia. We had the momentum from the word go and we kept dominating," he signed off.