New Delhi: Ajinkya Rahane is to Virat Kohli what Rahul Dravid was to Sourav Ganguly — the saviour. Every time the team has been in some trouble, especially on foreign soil, Rahane has answered the skipper’s call. But with the team management and selectors looking to try out various options with an eye on the 2019 World Cup, Rahane didn’t find a place in the team selected for the upcoming T20I series against the Aussies.
While the likes of former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar have come down heavily on the selection panel and team management for ignoring the Mumbai batsman, Rahane’s personal coach Pravin Amre — also a former India player — refuses to get into the debate on whether the selectors were harsh on his ward or not.
Speaking to Cricketnext, Amre drew parallels between a soldier and Rahane’s role in the team. He said that Rahane's job is to be prepared and wait for the call to come out and serve the national team. In fact, Amre goes on to add that the Test vice-captain’s statement after the selection meeting showed that the player has matured and is not insecure of his position in the team.
“Ajinkya is a like a soldier who is waiting to serve the country whenever picked. Also, I think he has matured a lot as a player and his statement after the announcement of the squad for the T20I series against Australia shows that he is not insecure of his position in the team. While I am not someone who is in a position to say if it is the right or wrong call by the selectors, what I can say is that he is already preparing for the upcoming series against New Zealand and will look to better the performance he put up against the Aussies,” he said.
Asked if skipper Kohli had a word with Rahane after the selection meeting, Amre said: “I am not aware of it so it would be unfair to comment. But one has to realise that this policy of backing injured players or those coming back after a break due to personal reasons has been followed by the current crop of selectors. And that is something which we are all aware of and need to take it in our stride. Even though Rahane has been ignored for the upcoming T20I series, the goal is the World Cup in England and considering his form on foreign soil, Rahane will definitely be in the scheme of things. So, as a coach, I am not at all worried about his position.”
Gavaskar on Monday hit out at the selectors for ignoring Rahane even after the batsman scored four half-centuries in 5 ODIs against Australia. This is not the first time that Gavaskar has batted for Rahane and has hit out at the selectors for constantly dropping him, despite his good show with the bat. Earlier, during the ODI series against Sri Lanka last month, the maestro lashed out at the selectors. Amre said that the former India skipper’s faith in his ward is what helps boost the batsman’s confidence.
“When you have someone of Gavaskar’s stature batting for you, it only helps motivate you further. Rahane did all the right things by scoring four fifties and putting on 100-run partnerships with Rohit Sharma at the top of the innings. And we are already looking at improving further and such support from a legend can only boost Rahane’s confidence further,” he revealed.
While Gavaskar has been very vocal, little master Sachin Tendulkar even met Rahane at the nets when the latter was working on his game with Amre ahead of the series against Australia. And while Amre didn’t wish to get into the technical details of the session, he said that the master blaster asked Rahane to keep focusing on his game and let the bat do all the talking.
“It is not often that we get decent time to prepare ahead of a limited-overs series. But this time we did get quality time before the Australia series and Tendulkar was there when we were training and it was nice of him to come and help Ajinkya out. Having not had too many opportunities in the Sri Lanka series, the wisdom Tendulkar shared with him clearly worked as Ajinkya scored consistently against Australia. And there is no denying the fact that the Aussies are one of the most competitive players in world cricket,” he signed off.