Ajinkaye Rahane is the ultimate team man. Ask him to bat in any slot and he is ready to give his best. The selfless 27-year-old Mumbaikar once again showed that his grit and determination can make him one of the biggest assets in the Indian team as he scored a fighting century last Sunday to help India win the second Test. When you consider that fact that it was the first Test in which Rahane had batted at one down one understands the utility value of the Mumbaikar.
In a typical Rahane sort of innings, he picked up the pieces after being dismissed cheaply in the first innings. He came up with a fighting century and also showcased that he is one batsman who can excel at virtually any position. As he himself put it, "My team management asked me to bat at No. 3 in this Test and I gave them a positive response," he told Sony Six after after scoring the ton. "It is important to be open minded and I feel you should think from the team's perspective first and then your individual success."
'The greatest asset about Rahane is that he can virtually bat in any position. I find it amazing that he is able to give his best while being made to bat in any position. This goes to prove the kind of versatile player that he is," said Kirti Azad, a member of the 1983 World Cup winning team.
Azad goes on to say that every time he saw Rahane in action, the Mumbaikar seemed to have learnt something. "Yes I have to confess that every time I see him (Rahane) bat he seems to evolve. That is something which I really admire about him," he said.
Another cricketer felt that the biggest facet about Rahane was his ability to learn from his mistakes. A clear cut example of this was his batting in both the innings at the Sara Ovel.
He got out for four runs in the first innings—but that did not deter him a bit. He showed his grit and ability to bounce back with a classic century in the second innings. For me it's his ability to bounce back that I admire about Rahane the most," said the cricketer.
As Rahane himself put it after being dismissed cheaply in the first innings he had a long chat with batting coach Sanjay Bangar. "I had a long chat with Sanjay and then decided to play close to the body. I think tactic help me score the ton," he said.
It is worth mentioning here that Rahane has batted successfully in various positions. He made his debut at No. 6, a position at which he had never previously batted in. Twenty-two of his 32 innings have come at No. 5 but he also batted once at No. 7, where he made his maiden Test century against New Zealand in February, 2014. He has, at least statistically, succeeded at them all, averaging over 40 at every position.
"His knock was a typical Rahane mould. No frills just a plain and simple knock. There were 60 singles and 13 two's apart from the seven boundaries. That goes to show that he (Rahane) went about his task in the most sensible manner," said a former coach.
But then there are some who felt Rahane should be given a fixed slot. "The think tank should give him a permanent slot. Otherwise, if you were to make him bat in various positions then it will not allow him to get settled. Fix him a permanent slot and see how well he would perform," said another cricketer.