‘Smith is one of our own, we will wel­come him with love in IPL’

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - WORLD - AJINKYARAHANE, Ra­jasthan Roy­als cap­tain Ankit Ku­mar Singh

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.

Ex­cerpts

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.

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