Over the past six seasons there have been batsmen who have gone on to become the mascot of the season due to their consistent and often match turning efforts with the bat. If it was Shaun Marsh in 2008 or Chris Gayle in 2011, then 2012 was the year of Ajinkya Rahane who scored so heavily for the Rajasthan Royals that he finally got a call to come up to the Indian team. Since that tournament, Rahane has been one of the most influential players in the Rajasthan Royals and along with Shane Watson he makes the RR top order one of the most formidable in the business.
However, it was not as rosy for him when he was a part of the star studded Mumbai Indians side. Over the 3 seasons between 2008 and 2011, he hardly got as many games as he would have liked. So the shift to Rajasthan Royals has not only helped him in showcasing his game, but has also benefited Indian cricket as a whole.
A great technique, a vast array of strokes and the ability to be as effective as any big hitting batsman without playing too many strokes in the air makes him an extremely dangerous customer for any team to negotiate. As an opener for the Rajasthan Royals, he has the license to go for the jugular from the outset since the other end is taken care of by Rahul Dravid.
In addition to that, it needs to be remembered that Rahane has a fine technique which allows him to play attacking shots off even good deliveries without appearing to take too much of a risk. In a nutshell, he is the Royals’ hit-man at the top of the order and if the team needs it, he can drop anchor as well, in case there is an early fall of wickets.
At the time the Rajasthan Royals bought him back in 2011, Rahane was still only a player who was well known in the domestic circuit but had not made his national team debut which is why he went for only $60,000. It is one of the reasons why he is regarded as one of the ‘Money-ball buys’ of the IPL due to the sort of value he has added to his team in relation to the relatively modest price at which he was bought.
Rahane’s best ever performance in the IPL came in a league game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore when he unleashed the full range of his strokes in a merciless display of clinical hitting to score an incredible 103 not out of 60 balls (4*12, 6*5) to take the Rajasthan Royals to 195 in their allotted 20 overs. Eventually, the Royals won the match by a big margin of 59 runs.
Rahane has given a good account of himself in the fast pitches in South Africa in 2009, when he averaged a decent 24 with a strike rate of 117.07. However, it cannot be denied that barring a short run of 10 matches in the 2011 edition for the Royals, it was only in 2012 that he first came on to his own with sterling displays. He scored a total of 560 runs in that tournament with a jaw dropping average of 40 and a strike rate of 129.33. In 2013, he seemed to have consolidated that position and although he did not have as good a season as the one in 2012, he still made quite a contribution with 488 runs in total at an average of 34.58, but a disappointing strike rate of 106.55.
Did you know?
Although he is a far more aggressive player than Rahul Dravid ever was, Rahane considers ‘The Wall’ as his role model and must have been thrilled to have played under his captaincy when the two represented the Rajasthan Royals. Although it is not known whether Rahane has a girlfriend or not, it is interesting to know that he is a deeply spiritual person and regularly practices meditation in order to enhance his powers of concentration.
By Soham Samaddar
Image Source: Ajinkya Rahane Official@Facebook