Ajinkya Rahane was delighted at being named one of the six Wisden India Cricketers of the Year for 2015. Rahane is a part of the list that includes Mithali Raj, the India women’s captain , Rishi Dhawan, Angelo Mathews, Umar Akmal and Mominul Haque.
“It means a lot to me. It’s a special feeling,” Rahane told Wisden India on Tuesday (April 28). “I am actually more inspired and determined to do well, and I am sure I will work more hard and keep doing well.”
Rahane’s highlight for the period between October 2013 and September 2014 was his century against England at Lord’s that helped India win a Test match at the historic venue for the first time since 1986.
He took strike at 86 for 3 on the first morning and soon India were reduced to 145 for 7, but Rahane overcame the challenge of a potent attack in overcast conditions on a green pitch to record his second Test hundred and set up a 95-run win.
“The Lord’s century was very challenging as the conditions were tough,” said Rahane, reflecting on the knock. “It was a special innings and from that I learn how to handle different situations.”
Prior to the Lord’s knock, Rahane had made a strong impression with his 96 against South Africa in Durban and 118 against New Zealand in Wellington.
His form in One-Day Internationals was also noteworthy, as he made three half-centuries and a match-winning 106 against England in Birmingham on the same tour.
That Rahane managed to have such a fruitful year after having spent a long period on the bench of the Indian team was remarkable. He thanked Praveen Amre, Mumbai’s coach who has been working with Rahane at a personal level, and Abhay Poyenkar, a bravery award winner, for his rise.
“Amre sir has had a great influence on my career. He has known my game for seven to eight years. He really helped me a lot with my batting and mental aspect,” added Rahane. “Poyenkar shared his incidents with me, and it gave me a lot of inspiration and strength.”
Rahane was also thankful to Rajasthan Royals for having given him an outlet to showcase his talent before he became a regular in the Indian team.
“Rajasthan Royals have played a great part in my career. They gave me the freedom and opportunity to express myself. It is a great platform,” said Rahane.
Such has been his rise that Rahane is now being touted as India’s next vice-captain. He, however, did not want to get too ahead of himself at this point.
“I am not thinking far too ahead,” he added. “I just want to keep improving my game and keep contributing to my team and country.”
Writing in the Wisden India Almanack about Rahane, Sandeep Dwivedi says:
Cricket, like all sports, is cruel. It has a brutal way of separating a Tendulkar from an Indulkar, a Manjrekar from the Muzumdars. Rahane, after his first Test, didn’t seem to have it. His tale was strikingly similar to the success stories that coaches bored their wards with, after nets at Shivaji Park or during a washed out Kanga League game, but this five-foot-something cricketer didn’t seem like the next big Mumbai batsman. He wouldn’t survive, they said. But within months, Rahane would be winning. His game would change dramatically, and so too would opinions. Even before 2013 ended, sagacity would overwhelm superstitions in the thinking cricketer’s troubled mind.