Rahane takes the spotlight

Ajinkya Rahane celebrates after scoring a century in IPL 5.-K. MURALI KUMAR

Ajinkya Rahane has skyrocketed to the top of the batting table by notching up runs in the conventional style. After missing a hundred he ensured that he did not let another opportunity pass by posting the first hundred in IPL 5.

The current IPL edition has seen some interesting results with the much fancied teams having to fight hard to achieve results while on the other hand, teams with a lesser star value quotient have produced good cricket to give the others a run for their money.

The first two weeks have been dominated by the pyrotechnics from the flamboyant Chris Gayle who has provided great entertainment. But the one who has given great comfort as far as the future of Indian cricket is concerned is Ajinkya Rahane.

He has skyrocketed to the top of the batting table by notching up runs in the conventional style. After missing a hundred he ensured that he did not let another opportunity pass by posting the first hundred in IPL 5. There would have been few takers if one were to wager that Rahane would do so at the start of the tournament but that's how the cookie crumbles in a T20 format. He had performed in the ODI games in England but the challenge was always going to be adapting to the hustle bustle of IPL. That he has adapted to it with aplomb only proves that success follow those who are aware of their limitations and play within them. He did not get on to the wagon by throwing his bat or alter his basic technique or approach, and backed himself to hit through the line.

It is early days yet to presume that he will be the next successor to a big name in the Indian line up but the mere fact that he has been a heavy scorer in the longer versions for many seasons coupled with his good form in this IPL makes him a safer bet as compared to the other seemingly young exciting players who were picked up in the auction at fancy prices.

The equanimity of Rahane is perhaps his biggest asset as being in and out of the Indian team has not deterred him in carrying on with his job. He did not get opportunities in Australia which must have been disappointing and for a player who is on the fringe every game becomes vital to maintain status quo. By that I mean that he can easily slip from people's memory (including the selectors) and thereby lose his spot in the Indian squad if he does not perform for a period of time.

Manoj Tiwary is another player who is in the same boat but a combination of some ordinary shots and an unfixed batting slot has somehow kept him in the shadow of others. But the disadvantage for Tiwary is that he is one among the crowd as there are enough and more superstars in his side. Hence he needs to do exceptionally well to overshadow others. In the case of Rahane he not only opens the innings which gives him the best of opportunities but being a part of a young talented bunch does not put too much of pressure on him. However, in terms of making the available opportunities count, he has been a beacon for his peers.

The big question now is whether the time has come for Rahane to be played in the Indian team regularly based on his IPL performances. The obvious answer is yes but a lot will depend on the squads picked in the future. One can safely say that Rahane has not been a flash in the pan as like some others and has repeatedly displayed a good attitude towards the game.

The same cannot be said of many youngsters who were dubbed as the future hopefuls. It is rather sad that the high prices paid by the franchisees for some has perhaps doused the embers in the belly rather than stoke them up but there is nothing that the franchisees can do about it. The passion and enthusiasm of Dravid and Ganguly post retirement in international is missing in the younger lot which is an indication that the BCCI needs to develop a safeguard mechanism to protect the talented crop of players from the ills of vulgarly high pay packets.

Of course, the administrators cannot be blamed for the lackadaisical approach of youngsters but at the same time, the future of Indian cricket needs to be taken into account as well. Perhaps it will be worthwhile for the youngsters to be educated on what the word “professional” means because there is a huge misconception with regard to the term.

Talking of professionalism, it is good to see a lot more Indians are involved in this IPL as match referees and umpires. They have done a good job so far and it only goes to prove that our own personnel can raise the standards if given the opportunities. But the biggest disaster has been the indifference of some foreign commentators who have not even bothered to get the pronunciation of the Indian players' names right. It is a pity that such gross negligence is allowed and I wonder if it will be tolerated in case the Indian commentators do the same with the names of foreign players. After all, what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander isn't it?