‘Smith is one of our own, we will welcome him with love in IPL’
MUMBAI: Captaincy of the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) came to Ajinkya Rahane under trying circumstances last year. Royals, who were returning to the IPL fold after a hiatus of two years, had suffered a big jolt before the start of the tournament when designated skipper Steve Smith was banned following his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal. Rahane showed exemplary acumen in leading the side to the play-offs where they eventually lost to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the eliminator.
With Rajasthan franchise retaining Rahane as the skipper for this season, the 30-year-old is now looking forward to the challenge of making it count once again. On the day Royals launched their new pink kit for the 2019 IPL, Rahane spoke on various subjects.
Q: How was your experience of leading Rajasthan Royals last year and how do you plan to go about it this season?
A: My experience was really good last year. All thanks to the management and Shane Warne who recommended my name since Smith was not available. Being a captain I really learned a lot. This year it is going to be all about being consistent. Royals have always been known for playing fearless cricket and backing their players. It’s very important to start well.
Q: How do you think Steve Smith will be received?
A: We all know how good Steve Smith is as a player and what he did in the past for Royals and for Australian cricket. Mistakes can happen and Rajasthan Royals is a team that believes in
backing players. Definitely, we will welcome Steve Smith with love because he is our player and he is one of our own. It is good to have him and I’m sure his inputs and experience will benefit us.
Q: How has IPL helped you?
A: It’s a different format with people coming from different countries and different cultures. Nowadays we play reverse sweeps and switch hits in Test cricket as well. It’s all because of the IPL and the T20 cricket and the innovation that this format offers. IPL helped me become a very good cricketer in shorter format—t20 and the ODIS.
Q: What was it like winning the Test series in Australia for the first time? What do you think was the most important factor behind the triumph?
A: That was the biggest moment in our lives. Playing in Australia you know the kind of challenge you face. It’s not easy to win a series there. Their bowling attack was so good. I thought the manner in which we played our cricket was fantastic. First Test match in Adelaide was very important to gather the momentum and from there onwards we were very good and played as a unit. Every batsman did really well. Bowling attack was so impressive. Getting those 20 wickets in the match is never easy. I thought because of our bowlers and their efforts that we did so well.