A surprise package for Indian cricket team.
He took his time to show his true caliber but when he did – Boy! He did it right. Starting his career in First Class cricket in 2007 against Karachi Urban, Rahane played an unexpected knock of 143 which was good enough to catch the attention of selectors. This was followed by an impressive 1089 Runs in Ranji season which attracted more of selector interests. Only 11 batsmen had so far scored 1000+ runs in a single Ranji season.
His impressive performance even continued in 2007-08 Duleep Trophy where he scored a splendid 172 against England Lions. His consistent batting performances in first class matches paved his way to the international cricket.
Rahane’s performance in Emerging Players Tournament in Australia brought him a place in Indian Squad for Tests in 2011. He did not get to play straightaway for the Indian team after being selected but had to pave his way through months of travelling and sitting on the bench while others made their debuts and went ahead to make careers out of it.
When he finally got his chance to play Tests and ODI’s for his country his performances were not up to the expectations. His ODI batting average of 25.13 and Test Cricket batting average of 45.25 was not enough to beat the competition coming from players like Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir. Rahane really struggled in the beginning to impress and one really doubted his career in International cricket.
Initially selected in the team of Mumbai Indians for IPL’s, Rahane hardly got any chance to play. He was mostly seen in benches waiting to get his turn someday. He played on several occasions for Mumbai Indians but failed to prove his worth. He spent three IPL seasons with Mumbai Indians between 2008 and 2011 where hardly anyone recognized his potential.
Later in 2012 the selectors of Rajasthan Royals brought him in their squad. They showed faith in him and he did not let them down. He scored a brilliant 98 runs in his first innings of IPL 2012 against Kings XI Punjab and brought an easy win to his team.One would have never expected an underdog like Rahane to give such a thrilling performance for his team at that time. But who knew that this was just the beginning and there was more to come. In the other match against Royal Challengers Bangalore everyone was dumbstruck by his scintillating knock of unbeaten 103 runs from just 60 balls. This brought him into limelight.
His batting and fielding skills were recognized and appreciated by all. He was the leading run scorer for the Rajasthan Royals in IPL-5 of 2012. Furthermore, he was the first batsman in IPL 2012 to score a ton and also be leading run scorer for Rajasthan Royals.
IPL & Regular National Squad Spot
In January 2014 Rajasthan Royals retained Ajinkya Rahane in their team as they believed that his contribution in batting and fielding were indispensable. Rahane’s efforts in IPL 2014 were consistent to the last IPL. He remained in the spotlight by scoring highest runs for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014. This new star player scored a total of 339 runs in IPL 2014 at the strike rate of 116.54.
His steady performances got him a permanent place in Indian squad. One thing is for sure that Rahane’s elite knocks in IPL’s made Mumbai Indians regret for not giving him enough chance to play during his affiliation with them. If we compare, he scored miniscule 268 in 3 years of IPL played for Mumbai Indians because of lack of opportunity whereas with Rajasthan Royals he scored 1447 runs in last 3 years of IPL played that comprised match winning two centuries and 10 half-centuries.
Class In All Conditions
In recent times Rahane has played at various positions for Indian team – from opening to being sent on number 3, 4 or 6. Interestingly, he manages to maintain similar approach towards batting no matter on what position he plays or what format of cricket he plays in. Another thing to observe is the performances he has given even when playing outside the sub-continent.
Rahane’s performance in first ODI against Bangladesh and also his widely-spoken classy knock of 103 against England at Lords are proof enough to show that he has a promising career ahead. One thing we may elude is that Rahane is one of those players who could perform on both i.e. home-ground as well as overseas.
We cannot deny the fact that Rahane has lot of focus, practice and patience. He never lost hope or his edge even when he was kept deprived of opportunities. He patiently waited for his moment to come and when it did – he proved that he is here to stay and make his presence felt. We have seen that many new players having great potential have emerged from IPL’s. Right now Ajinkya Rahane is leading this pack. He clearly is a star performer. It would be interesting to see if Rahane would be able to take the reign from Virat Kohli.