“I am happy to play whatever role is given to me" -  Ajinkya Rahane. © Getty Images

“I am happy to play whatever role is given to me” – Ajinkya Rahane. © Getty Images

Ajinkya Rahane’s place in the Test team hasn’t been in doubt since India’s tour of South Africa in late 2013 but the same can’t be said about his status in the One-Day International team.

He has had his share of successes in the format, and in three outings in India’s current ODI series against Windies, he has a century and two half-centuries to his name to make his case stronger. Earlier in the series, he got endorsement from Virat Kohli too, with the Indian captain expounding on the value Rahane brought and his presence in the squad freeing up a potential slot for an extra bowling option. (LINK: https://www.wisdenindia.com/cricket-news/kohli-hints-at-floating-role-for-rahane/258991).

However, Kohli also said after Rahane’s 104-ball 103 in the second ODI that the batsman was the third-choice opener, meaning no matter his consistency this series, Rahane would make way for Rohit Sharma.

In this series Rahane has made 62, 103 and 72, all while opening the batting with Shikhar Dhawan, and has made a case for himself in the playing XI. However, Rahane is familiar with a middle-order batting spot too, which Kohli had pointed to as one of his great assets, but the question of how and where comes up again.

“I don’t mind moving up and down the order,” offered Rahane after India won the third ODI in North Sound on Friday (June 30) by 93 runs. “I am happy to play whatever role is given to me. I’m not at all thinking of the next series or the next big event. I am focussed on the next match.”

In stark contrast to the eight hundreds and 2580 runs at an average of 46.07 he has in Tests, Rahane’s ODI career paints a not-so-impressive picture with 2474 runs at 34.36. He has three hundreds, 18 half-centuries and a strike rate of 79.01, which is not bad, but not the quickest in this day and age when 300 is a par score at most venues.  However, Rahane said he has been working on his attacking game.

“When I was not playing in the Champions Trophy (2017), I was focusing on my fitness and my batting. It’s always good to learn something new,” said Rahane. “I was confident about myself. It was a matter of good runs and scoring consistently. I’m grateful for this opportunity. I thank the team management for it. I was in England and I wanted to work hard on my fitness. During the IPL season we didn’t get time to work on our fitness.  Luckily we had that time during Champions Trophy and that comes in handy when the conditions are this hot.”

While his strike rate might not suggest it, Rahane does have a relatively aggressive streak in him.

“I am an instinctive player, I love to attack, but at the highest level you have to adapt,” he explained. “For example, the wicket here is very different from the one in Trinidad so I had to slow things down. There was plenty of uneven bounce. We had to take our time.

“But as a rule I practice all shots in the book. I can make up for slow starts with innovative shots and I can make it count.”