Rahane gives thumbs up to neutral venues

Rahane welcomed the move on the sidelines of the convocation ceremony of the Indian Institute of Sports Management, an institution founded by former India spinner Nilesh Kulkarni.

"I think it’s a very good decision," says Ajinkya Rahane.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

The Mumbai Cricket Association may have expressed reservations over the move to play Ranji Trophy at neutral venues in the lead-up to Friday’s BCCI meeting that approved the technical committee proposal. However, Ajinkya Rahane, the star batsman from Mumbai, gave thumbs up to the move.

“I think it’s a welcome decision to play all games at neutral venues,” Rahane said on the sidelines of the convocation ceremony of the Indian Institute of Sports Management, an institution founded by former India spinner Nilesh Kulkarni.

“It will test players more — both in terms of technique and mental strength. The players will have to think more to adapt and succeed. When you play home games, you sort of know what the wicket is going to be like and it’s an advantage. At neutral venues, there’s not much in your control. It will make players mentally stronger and learn more about the game. I think it’s a very good decision.”

With India set to play 17 Test matches, including 13 at home, in the coming nine months, it is unlikely that Rahane will be able to feature in the Ranji Trophy. With the countdown to the West Indies tour having already begun, Rahane has started preparing himself mentally for the four-Test series.

He feels the build-up to the first Test, scheduled to start on July 21, including a six-day camp in Bengaluru from June 29, will be crucial in India’s quest to win the only away series of the season. “The camp will surely be important since we are getting back together as a team after a long time. We do have a long season ahead of us but for now, all of us are focussing solely on the tour to the West Indies,” he said.

“The camp will obviously be important but even after reaching the Caribbean islands, we’ll be playing a couple of tour games. I think to generate momentum in those games will be crucial. The sooner we adapt to the conditions and get ready mentally, more than technically, the better it will be for us.”

Kumble will take Indian cricket forward

The camp in Bengaluru will be important in terms of the team gelling together with its new coach, Anil Kumble. Rahane was confident that the former India captain who was handed the reins of the team on Thursday will take Indian cricket forward.

"For a player of his stature to be the coach of the Indian team augurs well for the team and Indian cricket going forward. His vast experience of having excelled in international cricket will surely take Indian cricket forward,” Rahane said.