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Prajakta Pawar in Jaipur 27 April 2013 - 02:26pm IST

Opening with Watson makes my job easy: Rahane

RR opener speaks about role clarity and responsibility

A batsman in the classical mould, Ajinkya Rahane piled runs in the shortest format of the game in the fifth season of the IPL, 2012, after churning out brow raising performances on the domestic circuit. Opening for the Rajasthan Royals, the 24-year old played a key role in the Jaipur franchise’s fortunes in 2012 and is looking to repeat and better his performances in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013. With valuable experience behind him, RR’s leading run-getter in the previous edition will be shouldering more responsibility in second half of the ongoing season.

The youngster who received accolades for his stunning performances earlier had a slow start to the season. However, being in sublime touch, he was back amongst runs in the game against Mumbai Indians at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. While speaking to iplt20.com, the youngster discussed his role and responsibility in the team and talked about batting alongside Shane Watson

Excerpts from the interview:

Is there added responsibility this season and of his role with changes if any in the team?

Yes the responsibility has increased and it is a good thing for me as well. I have to take responsibility and play, carry the team with me if possible. I enjoy that a lot. I also get to learn a lot from players like Shane Watson, Rahul Dravid, Brad Hodge. They are very experienced T20 players so it feels good.

Opening the batting with Shane Watson?

Opening with him makes my job easy because runs are coming from one end and we know he is a dangerous player. So my job is to play a ball (a shot) if it is in my zone, otherwise take a single and give him strike. And I try to give him as much strike as I can.

Have there been changes since last season?

I have not made too many changes to my game. Last year my focus was to keep my game simple and focus on cricketing shots, this year also it is the same. In the first three games I got out in the thirties. The batting has been good but the starts were not getting converted. Luckily against the Mumbai Indians I could convert it into a big score. I try to continue playing in the same flow that I am playing.

It is at the back of my mind that I don’t want to think too much about getting out in the 30s and 40s and not converting them into bigger knocks. And if I keep batting like the way I have been, I will be able to get runs automatically in the coming games. So my focus is to keep batting in the same flow as I have been doing so far.

On the knock against Mumbai Indians and the confidence he gained from it?

Performing against MI is a challenge because we all know they are a good team. And we played them with the approach of it being just another match and express ourselves on the ground. The plan was successful. My confidence levels are definitely up but there is still a long way to go in the tournament. We just want to play one game at a time.

RR as a unit, with three-four players firing in each game to wrest victories?

Yes, we do well as a unit and we have gelled well. In all four matches we have won, we have performed well as a team. The credit goes to Rahul Dravid for the way he has handled the team. He gives all players the same level of importance, the same confidence and that is a big thing for the players.

Having had a decent run last year, what was learnt, is being learnt and how it helps in the current season?

We lost some really close games last year and would not want to repeat those mistakes this time round. The more close games we win this year, the more beneficial it is for us.

There is confidence because everyone had performed well last year as well. And T20 is a game in which whoever plays well on a certain day will win. Rahul and Paddy Upton are handling the team well and give the team confidence.

Role clarity for players in RR, how it helps performance?

Rahul bhai has told everyone their role and what they are to do. Who will bat at what position and what their role will be in that situation/position, that certainly has helped the team.

On local players delivering in key roles for the Royals?

Yes, they have done well. In the IPL, the Indian players are performing really well. Whoever has got an opportunity in whichever match has performed well in that match. According to me, any team that has Indian players performing well will benefit.

Regarding his batting?

You have to make adjustments and small changes. But I have not done big changes, my focus is to play on my basics, play cricketing shots and I have been doing so, so far.

Being part of Rajasthan Royals and the recognition his IPL performances have got him?

Thanks to RR, the team management and owners because of whom I have the opportunity. It is because of them I played all the matches last year and definitely because of that I have got good recognition. My main aim is to enjoy my cricket, which is my passion. I don’t think too much ahead and take it one step at a time.

The forthcoming matches are very important. Every match is important and we approach each game like it is just another match, because of that there isn’t much pressure. 

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