Laxman helping Rahane at No. 5

Having quietly cemented his place as India’s middle-order mainstay, Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday said he has gained a lot from borrowing a trick or two from former India batsman VVS Laxman.

Coming in at No.5, Rahane has showed the same bit of maturity that Laxman once displayed during the latter part of his 16-year-long international career.

“When batting at No.5 you have more time in your hands. I noticed how Laxman paaji made the optimal use of time. He used to come to the dressing room, relax, take a shower and take a brief nap. I learnt from him how important it is that during this time when you are waiting for your turn to bat, you don’t over-think things and stress your mind out,” said Rahane in an exclusive interview with BCCI TV.

“It is important to switch off and go out to bat with a fresh mind when your turn comes. I did take that from him (Laxman) – sometimes, when there is a bit of extra time, I try to sleep for 10-15 minutes. It helps me de-stress and rejuvenate my mind,” he added.

If the match-winning century at Lord’s was not enough to prove his credentials in the middle-order, his two fifties at Southampton, though in a losing cause, highlighted his rise as a player. Rahane said that he has grown as a player by just watching some of the greats of Indian cricket.

“I keep watching the videos of all the great innings played Rahul bhai, Sachin paaji and Laxman paaji. I watch how they approached a pressure situation and got the team out of the jail. I draw motivation from watching their innings,” he revealed.

After making his debut against Australia in March 2013, Rahane rose to prominence with his two half-centuries against South Africa in Durban, but his 103 in the first innings of the second Test against England at the Mecca of cricket in the ongoing five-match series, will always remain special for Rahane.

“At Lord’s I got to know what it feels like to win a Test match overseas. It was such an emotional feeling for all of us and it was so special. You play for moments like those. That is the feeling that makes every struggle and difficulty worthwhile,” he said.

Making an early impression as an opener for Mumbai in domestic cricket, Rahane has beautifully slipped into his middle-order role at the international level and the Maharashtra-born player is enjoying it.

“When I started playing first-class cricket, I opened the batting for two years and did quite well. Then the Mumbai team management thought that my batting at No.3 will be beneficial for the team. I gave a positive response to the call and batted at that position for the next few years,” said Rahane.

“When I got picked for the Indian team, I was there as a middle-order batsman. I had never batted at No.5 before and it was a very new thing for me. But I took it as a fresh challenge and tried my best to adapt to the role,” he explained.

With two centuries and four fifties in eight Tests and 15 innings, Rahane, 26, is already looking set for a long career ahead, but he said was important to have butterflies in your stomach even after many many innings.

“No matter how many Test matches you have played, you’re always a little nervous before a game and before going in to bat. And I believe it is important to have that nervousness because that means you care about this game and you respect it,” he signed off.

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