When Ajinkya Rahane was dropped from the Indian Test squad after a strong of poor performances in early 2022, before the home series against Sri Lanka, there was little hope that he could make a comeback. He was 34 then and India had a couple of younger options waiting in the wings. There was perhaps hope when Cheteshwar Pujara, who was also axed for the same series, returned later in the summer, but Rahane by then was into the wilderness. And just when few had expected, the veteran batter to make a return, he did and in breathtaking fashion. After taking IPL 2023 by storm for Chennai Super Kings, he returned to the Indian team, and emerged as the highest scorer in the WTC final. And although the team suffered a heartbreaking loss, Rahane gave himself another chance as he was picked for the West Indies tour as well.
On the eve of the Test series opener against Windies, which will mark the beginning of their campaign in the third WTC cycle, Rahane was asked by a reporter on what he makes of this series. The 35-year-old replied saying: “At this age? I mean, I’m still young.”
Before Rahane could continue with his answer, he was interrupted by a wild laughter from India captain Rohit Sharma, who was standing there and listening to the vice-captain. Rahane looked visibly irritated at that reaction from the India opener, but continued saying: “Whatever role I’ll be given by Rohit, I’ll try to fulfil it”.
Rohit then took over reporting duties and it was press-conference time for Rahane. Here is how the conversation went…
Rohit: You have come to the West Indies many times. You have played a lot in these wickets, scored runs. So what would say to the youngsters in the side who are touring the Caribbean islands for the first time?
Rahane: My message to the youngsters will be to be patient. That is important if you want to score runs here.
Rohit: It’s a very chilled atmosphere here. So how do you focus at the job on hand?
Rahane: You have to think about what is happening on the ground. Can’t put your mind to things outside of the ground when you are in the middle.
BCCI later shared a video of that moment and captioned it: “𝘿𝙊 𝙉𝙊𝙏 𝙈𝙄𝙎𝙎! When #TeamIndia Captain @ImRo45 turned reporter in Vice-Captain @ajinkyarahane88’s press conference. What do you make of the questions.”
West Indies series brings Rahane fresh hope
With Shreyas Iyer, who had emerged as India’s new No.5, still out recovering from his back injury, Rahane has been given another chance, this time in the tour of West Indies. And the call to retain him in the side was only natural after his efforts in the WTC final where he scored 89 and 46 against Australia at The Oval.
With India not having any more red-ball action until December, when they tour South Africa, also for a two-Test series, it could be good opportunity for Rahane to make another impression and give selectors a happy headache Proteas contest.