Con­sis­tency key to In­dia’s Cup hopes

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - Sport - Bi­han Sen­gupta bi­han.sen­[email protected] n

Ajinkya Rahane’s mid­dle-order bat­ting was cru­cial in In­dia’s run to the semi­fi­nals of the 2015 World Cup. Four years on, his name was not even dis­cussed de­spite the fo­cus on a No 4 bats­man be­fore In­dia’s 15-man squad for the World Cup was picked. In the IPL, he led Rajasthan Roy­als in phases of the tour­na­ment but failed to in­spire them to a play­off berth.

Speak­ing on the side­lines of the CEAT Cricket Rat­ing Awards, the Test vice-cap­tain dis­cussed his form, World Cup omis­sion, IPL and the up­com­ing County stint with Hamp­shire.

Ex­cerpts: I thought I re­ally did well as a bats­man through­out. As a team we could have done bet­ter, we had those chances, mo­ments in two-three matches but didn’t cap­i­talise on them. In T20, one or two overs can change the game. A lot to learn from this sea­son as a team, and I’m sure the guys will come re­ally hard next time as im­proved play­ers.

Would you say bats­men let Rajasthan Roy­als down?

Not re­ally. Peo­ple al­ways see the big runs. What one has to see is the im­pact runs you score for your team. The num­ber doesn’t mat­ter to me. I feel the cou­ple of 30s, 40s and the hun­dred I got were re­ally im­pact­ful. You got to think about your team, you can­not think about your­self.

Talk­ing about im­pact­ful shows, your thoughts on Riyan Parag?

He is a very tal­ented and con­fi­dent crick­eter, it’s good to see him do so well. He hardly played five-six games (seven), but the tem­per­a­ment he showed was in­cred­i­ble. I’m sure he will learn many things from this sea­son and come out an im­proved crick­eter next year.

You bat­ted at No 4 in one game. Is that your favourite spot?

I am al­ways an opener, es­pe­cially in T20. That’s my favourite num­ber. I came at No 4 (against Kings XI Pun­jab) be­cause the team wanted me to sta­bilise the po­si­tion and get the in­nings go­ing. I al­ways be­lieve what­ever the team wants, you should do. In ODIs, I have bat­ted many times at No 4 and done well. I did well as an opener too but it’s al­ways what the team wants from me.

How do you rate In­dia’s World Cup chances?

In­dia’s chances are re­ally high. I feel we are the favourites. But it is im­por­tant to play con­sis­tent cricket. The (all teams play each other) for­mat is new and if you get momentum early on, you have to carry it into the knock­outs, where con­sis­tency will be very im­por­tant.

Where do you think you missed out on a berth?

If you see my ODI record, it’s re­ally good. When­ever I got an op­por­tu­nity as a No 4 or opener, I did re­ally well. I can only fo­cus and con­trol that, scor­ing runs. Other things, I can­not con­trol. For me, I did ex­cep­tion­ally well in ODI cricket in the last 2-3 years in what­ever lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties I got. I al­ways be­lieve in my­self and fo­cus on con­trol­lable things. If I can play cricket with a good at­ti­tude and pas­sion­ately, other things will fall (in place) au­to­mat­i­cally.

How dif­fi­cult is it to switch from T20 to a 50-over World Cup?

I don’t think it is dif­fi­cult be­cause we are all used to it. We play Test cricket and then next day we go play T20. Play­ers are used to this for­mat and ev­ery player will ad­just to it very quickly. It’s all about hav­ing that good men­tal space and mindset. Re­cov­ery is very im­por­tant for each player. The IPL sea­son was very hec­tic. Re­cov­ery and re­hab and all the strength­en­ing ses­sions, apart from your crick­et­ing skills, are very im­por­tant.

Your thoughts on play­ing County cricket with Hamp­shire.

I am re­ally ex­cited. It’s my first stint with Hamp­shire and I’m look­ing for­ward to it and (hope I) get to learn many things about bat­ting and in gen­eral about cricket. It’s go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence al­to­gether. I spoke to Rahul Dravid and Sachin Ten­dulkar, (and) they told me ‘we learnt so many things from County stint … just en­joy your­self, en­joy your cricket and give your best.’

REUTERS

Ajinkya Rahane wasn’t named in In­dia’s World Cup squad.

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