Àjinkya Rahane captained Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League 2018 Image: Twitter
Ajinkya Rahane is an eternal optimist, who is ready to find a silver lining in everything, including his rejection from India's limited-overs squad.
He believes that being overlooked for the limited-overs leg of the UK tour will give him more time to do his homework for the big-ticket five-match Test series against England, starting August 1.
“It is important that you get time to prepare yourself and clarity is important, when you know that you are not in ODI squad and you just going to play Test matches in England. I will get good a amount of time for the Afghanistan Test and after that for the England tour,” Rahane told reporters on the sidelines of the CEAT Cricket Awards.
Even if there is an element of frustration, Rahane doesn't want to show that.
“No, I am not at all frustrated, actually the thing is I can tell you this is actually motivating me, because I am actually looking to make a comeback. Right now, my focus is on Test cricket. I still believe that I can come back and do well in shorter formats with World Cup (2019) coming up,” he said.
While there are enough indications that he has fallen off the radar as far as India's limited overs scheme of things are concerned, Rahane is still hopeful that he can turn the table.
“I still believe in myself. I did well in ODI cricket whenever I got my opportunities. In West Indies, I got man of the series award (with four half-centuries). Against Australia, I did really well. In South Africa, the team management asked me to bat at No 4 and I did well, so it is just a matter of time. I am still confident that I will make a comeback and do well for my country in the shorter format,” the right-hander put up a brave front.
Pakistan may have walloped England inside three and half days in their first Test at the Lord's but that doesn't mean India will have it easy when they embark on their gruelling five-Test tour of the Old Blighty, feels Rahane.
Asked about England's comprehensive defeat at the hands of Pakistan and its implications, a cautious Rahane said, “It is very hard to judge (England) right now. Playing in England in their own backyard is always a challenge. Yes, Pakistan played very well. They bowled and batted well but there is still some time to go for our series. We can't take England for granted as they can come back anytime.”
Before the England Test series, Rahane will be leading India against Test debutants Afghanistan in the historic one-off Test in Bengaluru, starting June 14.
Right now, our focus should be on the Afghanistan Test match and then think about England. We can, by no means, take Afghanistan lightly. The world accepts and respects Rashid Khan as a quality bowler. Whether in life or cricket, nothing can be taken for granted Ajinkya Rahane
“Right now, our focus should be on the Afghanistan Test match and then think about England. We can, by no means, take Afghanistan lightly. The world accepts and respects Rashid Khan as a quality bowler. Whether in life or cricket, nothing can be taken for granted,” he said.
“Qualifying for a Test is the biggest thing for Afghanistan cricket and that is good for cricket. We need to go out there and play with the good intensity like we play with every other team,” Rahane added.
As the discussion again turned to the marquee England series, Rahane reiterated that the start is important.
“England's strength is their quality of all-rounders (Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Moeen Ali). We have to take one game at a time. We have the team to do well abroad, especially in England and Australia. I always believe that the first match of the series is always important. If you get that momentum early in the series, then you can actually dominate your opponent,” the 30-year-old Indian vice-captain signed off.
(With inputs from PTI)