Ajinkya Rahane rose to prominence while playing under Rahul Dravid in Rajasthan Royals and the right-handed batsman feels current skipper Shane Watson is as “cool and calm headed” as his predecessor.
“He (Watson) has been wonderful. In so many ways he is very similar to Rahul bhai as captain. Like him, Shane too is very calm in the middle and makes his decisions with a cool head,” Rahane said after playing a key role in Rajasthan’s thrilling Super Over win against Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL-7 here last night.
“They both have the ability to hold their nerves in pressure situations and take their own time in making the right decisions.”
Rahane smashed 72 off 59 balls to help Rajasthan post 152 for five on the board before their bowlers kept their calm at the death to restrict KKR to 152 for eight in 20 overs, thereby taking the match to Super Over.
In the Super Over, KKR batting first scored 11 off James Faulkner with Manish Pandey getting a six. In reply, Steven Smith showed his cricketing acumen with a soft tap off the last delivery from Sunil Narine towards extra cover to get two runs that sealed the match in their favour.
But had it not been for James Faulkner’s splendid penultimate over, Rajasthan could have ended on the other side of the coin. ‘Birthday boy’ Faulkner (3/11 in 2 overs) picked up the wickets of Suryakumar Yadav (31), Robin Uthappa (0) and R Vinay Kumar (0) in the 19th over with KKR just needing 16 off the last two.
“What a game! Absolutely nail-biting. I am elated with the team’s performance. Everybody held their nerve in tense conditions. The credit goes to the bowlers for the way they pulled the game in our favour in the end overs,” Rahane was quoted as saying by IPL’s official website.
“I am very happy for all the bowlers, particularly James Faulkner. He actually brought us back in the game with that three-wicket over. He absolutely deserves his Man of the Match award, which is a great birthday present for him,” he said.
Rahane said he is now relishing the role of a senior batsman in the Rajasthan Royals set-up, but credits Dravid a great deal for his transformation as a cricketer. “I do feel I have some more responsibility on the batting front now that Rahul bhai is not playing. I love added responsibilities as they make me work hard, and in turn, help me improve as a cricketer,” the Mumbai lad said.
Asked whether he tried to change his approach as a batsman in the ongoing IPL, Rahane said: “No, thanks to Rahul bhai, it hasn’t. At the beginning of the season, he told me specifically not to change my game just because my opening partner is different. He said, ‘Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself and bat like yourself’.”
‘Faulkner made the difference’
Abu Dhabi: All-rounder Steven Smith credited the Jaipur outfit’s success to fellow Australian James Faulkner’s triple strike in the penultimate over. “I think that over from Faulkner turned the match in our favour. Until then, the game was pretty much in the balance, and in fact, they were probably in front,” Smith said after last night’s win.
“With three wickets falling in one over, it got really tough for the new batsmen to have a go straight away. Credit to James for the way he handled himself in that situation and got us back”