Ajinkya Rahane: ‘I want to come back to ODIs’

Despite being a regular campaigner in the Tests, the shorter format of the game has eluded the 31-year-old batsman. As he gears up for the three-match Test series against South Africa, Rahane admits that he hopes to make a comeback to the ODI side as well.

Ajinkya Rahane at a meet and greet event organised by Indian Oil Corporation in Mumbai on Thursday.   -  Shayan Acharya

It’s been a year and a half since Ajinkya Rahane played his last ODI for India. Taking on South Africa in its den, the seasoned batsman remained unbeaten on 34 as India bagged a eight-wicket win at Centurion.

Despite being a regular campaigner in the Tests, the shorter format of the game has eluded the 31-year-old batsman. But as he gears up for the three-match Test series against South Africa, beginning in Visakhapatnam on October 2, Rahane admits that he hopes to make a comeback to the ODI side as well.

“Apart from Tests, I really enjoy playing ODI cricket as well. I want to come back to ODIs, but right now, the focus is completely on this series (against South Africa),” Rahane said during a meet and greet session organised by Indian Oil.

After being left out of India’s World Cup squad, Rahane travelled to Southampton for a couple of months to play the County Championships for Hampshire. And that, he feels, helped him to shine in the tour to West Indies.

“After the Australia series, there was a long break. When I got to know that I was not part of the World Cup squad, my plan was to play county cricket and luckily, Hampshire called me. I thought I can actually use my time really well and learn about cricket and life. It’s a completely different experience when you play county cricket,” Rahane said.

Talking about the experience in Hampshire, Rahane said: “Here, we get things so easily. In county cricket, you need to do everything on your own. Apart from cricket, small things helped me a lot. I used to walk alone after the practice session and question myself about what I was thinking when I started playing cricket. The answer was that I enjoyed (playing)cricket rather than focusing on the outcome. When you think about focus and outcome, you put yourself under pressure.”

“Your practice sessions should be really hard so that when you step into play a match, it gets easy for you. Preparation and process is the key. You need to believe in yourself and come out strongly. If I can keep my mind at the present — that is Test cricket — other things will fall automatically.” — Ajinkya Rahane

Those two months helped him ‘learn a lot’. “I played seven matches and the focus was actually on red ball because I knew we would play Dukes ball in the West Indies. Trusting your ability was the key.”

The result was evident as he managed to score a ton in the first Test against the West Indies. He also built a strong partnership with Hanuma Vihari who played a knock of 93.

“Partnership between me and Vihari was very important. He has also played five-six domestic cricket before making it to the Tests. We enjoyed each other’s company and the communication we had was really good,” Rahane said.

Rahane admits that it does get challenging for a batsman who is considered a Test-specialist to make his presence felt in all the three formats.

“Your practice sessions should be really hard so that when you step into play a match, it gets easy for you. Preparation and process is the key. You need to believe in yourself and come out strongly. If I can keep my mind at the present — that is Test cricket — other things will fall automatically,” he said.

“The only challenge you have is getting match practice. Sometimes, match practice is really important and facing quality bowlers is important. At the highest level, you face quality bowlers all the time. All of them are equally good. You don’t get loose balls easily. You need to practice really hard,” he said.

With a packed home season, Rahane would be hoping to don the India colours in the limited overs as well soon.