IPL 2023: Anything can happen, Ajinkya Rahane on buzz around India recall | Cricket News
At 34, he isn’t getting any younger too. In fact, once Moeen Ali returns to the XI after recovering from his illness, he might struggle to hold on to his place in the Chennai Super Kings XI too.
IPL 2023: Rahane hits season’s fastest 50 in Chennai win over Mumbai
However, the absence of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant and the lack of options thereafter in the middle-order have opened a foot in the door for an India recall for the Mumbaikar in India’s Test team for the World Test Championship final against Australia in June at the Oval from June 7-11. And the veteran batsman, who has the experience of English conditions, is doing his bit to buttress his case for a surprise recall for the big game.
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Captaining Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy this season, Rahane top-scored for his team, notching up 634 runs in 7 [email protected], with 2 hundreds and one fifty-that tally would’ve been more but for Mumbai suffering a rare exit in the league stage.
On Saturday night at the Wankhede Stadium, making his debut for CSK after being told just before the toss that he would replace an ill Moeen, Rahane smashed 61 off 27 balls to script his team’s seven-wicket win over the Mumbai Indians in a marquee IPL clash. Dishing out some vintage stuff in his new avatar of a free-stroking No 3, Rahane demolished MI’s hapless attack, tonking left-arm seamer Arshad Khan for a six and four fours on the trot in the fourth over.
Talking about the buzz around his India recall, the former India captain repeated after his Saturday night heroics what he had been telling the reporters during the Ranji Trophy after scoring a century.
“Anything can happen… as I always say, I will never give up. For me, it’s all about playing with enjoyment, and playing with passion. Whatever format I play, it’s all about giving my best every time rather than thinking ‘what if?’ Or thinking about the future which is not in my hands, not in my control. For me, it’s all about, as a player, giving my best every time and trying to be as positive as possible and, whenever I get an opportunity, I should be ready for that,” he said.
IPL 2023: Ajinkya Rahane blitz helps Chennai Super Kings floor Mumbai Indians
In an IPL universe where big-hitters rule the roost, a classical batsman like Rahane, who can make your eyes drool with that cracking straight drive or backfoot punch through the covers. He took out some of those exquisite shots from his drawer while hammering a 19-ball fifty-the fastest of IPL-2023 and perhaps his T20 career too- while pulverizing the MI bowling. It was his first half-century in the IPL since 2020. CSK is Rahane’s sixth IPL team-his performance last year for the Kolkata Knight Riders-133 runs in 7 [email protected] wasn’t great. However, Rahane knows that in a game of power-hitters, a touch-play artist like him can carve out his own place.
“Every player is different. I don’t want to be someone else; I just want to be Ajinkya Rahane. The way I know how I play, my strengths, my timing. I just want to back myself. I’ve never tried to be someone else. It’s all about trying to remind myself that if I can just be Ajinkya Rahane and play like Ajinkya Rahane, I think I’ll be fine,” he said.
It’s obvious that like many 30-plus players before him, Rahane has benefited from the relaxed environment at CSK. Crediting his success to the CSK management, Rahane said, “I had only heard of the atmosphere in the Chennai team and I am now experiencing it. It is like a family. We had a productive month-long pre-season camp and it has helped.”
What has also helped is the backing and advice of skipper MS Dhoni to just be himself and not look to do something out of character. “The instructions from him were pretty simple: back your game, play to your strengths rather than trying to do something else. It’s all about knowing your game and, when you get an opportunity, just back that game. Mahi bhai’s instruction was completely clear, just play with intent, back yourself, don’t change anything else. If your intent is good, I have the shots that I can play at any ground so it was all about keeping it simple for me. I’m happy to bat anywhere. It’s all about your mindset and what you want to do for your team,” Rahane explained.
Dhoni knows that in Rahane, he doesn’t have a six-hitting machine, but a technically sound batsman who can be banked upon. “We spoke right at the start and he was like, ‘what are you looking at from me’ and I told him what I had in mind. He is not someone who will consistently hit sixes but he is very sound technically. I was very happy with the way he batted,” the CSK skipper said.
There is something about the quality of Rahane’s batsmanship that has earned him his own set of admirers over the years. Some of them are former stars of the sport. “I’ve always loved Ajinkya Rahane’s batting. He’s star quality!,” tweeted Kevin Pietersen. “Great tabadtod stuff by @ajinkyarahane88. Innings of this IPL so far. Rahane not giving any bahane to not have him in the team. Rompa cuppar stuff….. #CSKvMI,” Virender Sehwag praised on social media.
“It’s a great story. I think everyone enjoys when Jinks scores runs because he’s just one of those likeable characters. He’s always got a smile on his face and he’s been a great servant to Indian cricket,” said former Australian all-rounder and Sunrisers head coach Tom Moody on Cricinfo.
“When we were bowling, we got the idea of how the wicket was playing and how the ball was behaving. When you’re chasing 150 or 160, it’s important to bat with intent in the first six overs. If you get a good start, it becomes really easy. When I went in, it was all about playing my normal game, backing my strengths,” Rahane said.