In an Indian team filled with flamboyant batting superstars, the unassuming Ajinkya Rahane often slips under the radar. Rahane’s recent numbers, however, underlines the value he brings to the table.

With 1,095 runs at an average of 43.80, the Mumbai batsman is India’s leading run-scorer in this World Test Championship (WTC) cycle. His leadership qualities — which came to the fore in the memorable series win in Australia recently — is yet another asset.

Typically modest

Heading into the WTC final against New Zealand at Southampton, Rahane is typically modest when asked about his good form. “I like to be in the present, and adjust to the conditions on the given day. Being India’s highest run-scorer in the WTC cycle does not matter. It’s in the past. If we can play freely, we will get the desired result,” Rahane said in a media interaction on Wednesday.

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Rahane is familiar with the WTC final venue, the Rose Bowl, having played two Test matches there on earlier tours. Though both matches (in 2014 and 2018, against England) resulted in losses, Rahane did fairly well, scoring three fifties in four outings. The Indian vice-captain has also played at Southampton during his stint with Hampshire in the English county circuit.

The 33-year-old stated that spin could play a factor, even though the match could be affected by rain. “We don’t want to go out there thinking about the weather forecast. In England, slow bowlers are the key. I’ve played many matches at Southampton — two Tests and two-three County games. It’s about adapting to slow bowlers. It’s too early to think about team composition, but we have a bowling attack which can do well in all types of pitch and weather conditions,” Rahane said.

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Good memories

Rahane, and indeed the Indian team, have good memories of the tour to Australia a few months ago. Rahane had famously taken over captaincy duties from an unavailable Virat Kohli in the second Test, before leading an injury-ravaged side to a thrilling 2-1 win.

Rahane stated that the victories in Australia helped revive interest in Test cricket, and that this trend is set to continue with the marquee WTC final clash. “The Australia series was the biggest win for us. We did so well there. I thought people started to take interest in Test cricket once again,” Rahane said.