Should Kohli be ruled out, Ajinkya Rahane will take charge of leadership duties. © BCCI

Ajinkya Rahane is fully focused on the impending Test series versus England. © BCCI

Ajinkya Rahane remains unperturbed over his non-selection in India’s limited-overs setup, and is looking forward to the ‘big challenge’ when India begin their five-match Test series against England on August 1.

In an interview with Cricketnext, Rahane accepted that the clamour for spots in the Indian side, especially in the limited-overs formats, is good news for India, but stressed that he is nonetheless ready to step in in case his services are required.

“First of all, I think it is a very good sign that so many talented cricketers are coming up. It is a very good sign for Indian cricket. It is a good problem to have many talented cricketers are coming in different formats,” said Rahane.

“For me, what matters is to focus on my performance in England. Things can change pretty quickly in India. I believe in myself but right now, it is important for me to contribute in my team’s performance in England. And I hope that things will automatically in my favour.”

In India’s tour of South Africa in January, Rahane was dropped from the Test side for the first two games, which raised several eyebrows especially with him being the vice-captain.

Rahane was defiant about his confidence not taking a hit in such a situation, and once again reiterated his intent of doing well for the team in any capacity.

“I don’t think that this is affecting me. The important thing is to believe in your abilities. I am aware of my capabilities and how good I am,” Rahane pointed out.

“It is part and parcel of a professional cricketer’s life. Everyone goes through this phase. I know I can make a comeback and I have done really well in the shorter formats in the past. I think, right now, the important thing is to practice hard and go out there and enjoy myself. It is important to contribute to my team’s cause and do well for my country.”

Asked about his preparation for the England series, Rahane replied, “I have been practicing with Praveen Amre sir. There are these two guys who come with him. I do some throw downs. I also practice with the help of bowling machines. I did some practice with the tennis balls as well as with half tennis and half rubber balls, which help in tackling swinging deliveries — both incoming and outgoing. So just some specific skill training to get ready for the challenges that we are going to face in England.”

Rahane, who will leave for England in a couple of days, will join the India A side which will take on the England Lions, and will also play a practice game with the Indian Test squad against Essex. He was glad that this time, there is adequate practice for the squad before the Tests begin, which would aid in acclimatising to English conditions quickly.

With the Test squad yet to be announced, there has been a lot of conjecture over the significance of the Yo-Yo test, which has seen two cricketers left out of the Indian one-day and Twenty20 side to face England.

When quizzed about the test, Rahane remarked “The culture right now in the team is to focus on fitness. We have been playing so many matches, it is only good for the players. If you have the cricketing skills and your fitness is up to the mark, you can go miles. Our intention is to make team India number 1 in the world in all the formats. We believe that whatever fitness test is happening, it is really good for the team.”

On being asked about his targets for the upcoming series, Rahane signed off in his typical, unassuming manner, “As always, I am not thinking about myself. There is always this one goal that we have to do well in England win the series. I also want to contribute in the team victory in England, that is my goal.”