Ajinkya Rahane is “trying” to be the batter he was in his younger days. Far from the arclights and perks of being an India Test captain, the Mumbai skipper has embarked on a journey of self-discovery, without any specific destination. He feels it is working well for him as 532 runs in five Ranji games, with a top score of 204 and an average of 76, would suggest. “I was thinking about old times and when I first came into the Ranji team (back in 2007). How I used to play, and what was my thought process. I have gone back to the drawing board and I am trying to be the Ajinkya what I used to be in my initial days,” Rahane told PTI during an interaction on the eve of Mumbai’s penultimate Ranji Trophy game against arch-rivals Delhi.
“The idea is to keep things simple,” he added.
Having been out of favor since the tour of South Africa early last year, Rahane admitted to having brought about some changes in his technique.
“Small changes obviously. You have to evolve continuously as a player and continue to work and improve upon your strategies.
“No major changes but small changes, skill-wise, now I have to be in the moment thinking for Mumbai and doing well for them. That’s on my mind completely.” He also reminded me that he can’t be selfish and only think about his own batting.
“I am not thinking too much about my own batting but preparation matters a lot to me. Preparation has been really good even before Ranji season,” said the 34-year-old who has played 82 Tests, 90 ODIs, and 20 T20Is.
Having experienced the high of international cricket, Rahane understands Prithvi Shaw’s ecstasy at getting an India recall (in T20Is) and Sarfaraz Khan getting ignored after back-to-back 900-run seasons.
So what is his advice for Prithvi or Sarfaraz ahead of an important Ranji game?
“My advice to them would be simple. Control the controllable and not dwell on things that are not in your hands. Just try and be in the moment and not think too far ahead,” said Rahane.
He knows how setbacks affect players and as a Mumbai skipper, his “door remains open” for a chat with any player. He will also be there if anyone wants a sounding board.
“You have to put your arm around guys who are going through rough patches. Important to give them the freedom to express themselves not only on the field but also off the field.
“The individual can come to me and talk to me about anything that’s going on in his personal life,” the skipper said.
He had a 400-plus stand with Shaw in the last game against Assam in which the latter scored a superb 379.
“Obviously, Prithvi we all know is an attacking player. He likes to take on the bowler every time.
“When you play a knock like 379, it is important not only to control that aggression and intent to play the shot but also your intent to leave the ball and defend. His determination was great to see from another end,” he concluded.