Rahane: ‘Rate this innings very highly’

During his fabulous innings of 188, Rahane appeared to be in discomfort every time he faced the barrage of short balls hurled at him by the Kiwi pace triumvirate. It was in a way odd to see Rahane, after all his exploits against pace and bounce on varied conditions across the globe, struggling on a wicket at home.

“I was struggling, but I think there is no shame in struggling. Even when you struggle, it’s important to enjoy it. It shouldn’t be that you enjoy batting only when you are scoring runs freely."   -  Vivek Bendre

For a better part of their record 365-run partnership, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane appeared to batting in the most contrasting styles. While captain Kohli was literally toying with the New Zealand bowlers, Rahane appeared to be in discomfort every time he faced the barrage of short balls hurled at him by the Kiwi pace triumvirate.

It was in a way odd to see Rahane, after all his exploits against pace and bounce on varied conditions across the globe, struggling on a wicket at home. But the gritty batsman, aided with a touch of fortune, managed to not just survive but also notch up a hundred. In fact, even though he missed out on a maiden double century by 12 runs, he rated this innings “at the highest” among all his eight Test hundreds. Not because he registered his career best but purely because the manner in which he continued to fight against the odds at the Holkar Stadium.

“I was struggling, but I think there is no shame in struggling. If you play Test cricket, if you struggle, you should not be ashamed that you’re struggling. If you’re struggling, fine. But time and situations change, and how you handle them and dominate is important,” Rahane said.

When probed further about surviving the difficult phase, rather than dead-batting the question with a mundane answer, Rahane answered it in a freewheeling manner, just the way he tonked the opposition spinners.

“Even when you struggle, it’s important to enjoy it. It shouldn’t be that you enjoy batting only when you are scoring runs freely; one should enjoy the manner in which you tackle the tough phase. What matters the most is that you save your wicket,” Rahane said.

“Let the ball hit the helmet or let it appear weird on television; all that doesn’t matter as long you are facing the next ball. I actually enjoyed this innings a lot because it made me realise Test cricket even better. The feeling of scoring a hundred after struggling is just incredible. You can’t notch up a hundred in 120 or 130 or 140 balls every time; at times you have spend a lot more time on the wicket and face more than 200 balls for a century. I am delighted I could do that and I will rate this innings very highly in my career.”

Rahane also acknowledged the presence of Kohli, who was batting freely, at the other end. “We were talking between the overs that communication was really good. Virat at the other was batting so well, batting so fluently. Yesterday I was struggling a bit, and he came up to me and told me to just enjoy it — ‘Doesn’t matter that they’re bowling short balls or that you’re getting hit... What is important is that you are not out and still batting, and tomorrow if you are there, I’m sure you’ll dominate’. So I think that confidence from your captain or your partner is really important when you’re batting together,” he said.

The confidence in his batting over the last couple of years has also made him a certain speaker. If he continues to thrive in the same manner, Rahane will definitely continue the legacy of his idol, Rahul Dravid, with whom he is often compared with, in the years to come.