KOLKATA: India batsman Ajinkya Rahane on Saturday said the West Indies are a dangerous and unpredictable side and Virat Kohli and his men need to respect their opponents in the ongoing away series.
Post their World Cup semifinal exit, India are back in business with a full away series against the West Indies that began with the first of the three T20Is on Saturday.
Overlooked for the shorter format once again, Rahane is looking forward to the two Tests beginning August 22.
"We all know they are a dangerous team, unpredictable team. I'm really looking forward, really excited about this series against the West Indies," Rahane said at the Cricket Association of Bengal's annual awards ceremony at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
"It is important to respect them, play our game as we've been playing especially in Test cricket and for me it's important to give my best. I always focus on contributing for my team and I think I'm just going to do my best as well. Once I go there I will give my 100 per cent."
The 31-year-old has been out of India's ODI scheme of things since playing his last 50-over game against South Africa in February last year.
India's top three failed against New Zealand in the World Cup, failing to chase down a modest 240 to make a shock exit in the semifinal for the second successive edition.
India went ahead with Vijay Shankar at no. 4 but after his injury they tried out Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul at that crucial position but without any success and many criticised the Indian think-tank for ignoring the elegant Mumbaikar.
In his opening address, Rahane who was the chief guest at the CAB programme, used the platform to say that he always loved batting at no. 4 spot.
"Incidentally, my number (sequence in the prize distribution) here is four. I really enjoy batting at no 4. That's my favourite position," he said, making it obvious how much he missed the World Cup. With heavy rains in Mumbai, Rahane is not wasting time as he is training under his idol Rahul Dravid at the Bengaluru-based National Cricket Academy.
"I'm actually doing my fitness in Bangalore because the reason is it's raining heavily in Mumbai and I wanted to train outdoors so I think Bengaluru is the best place and that too training under Rahul Dravid. I always follow him. He is one of my role models. I'm really happy that he's in Bangalore and I'm focusing on my fitness as well," Rahane said.
The much-talked-about World Test Championship has started with the first Ashes Test. The top-ranked India team will start their WTC campaign in the Caribbean.
The top nine Test teams will vie for glory in 71 matches across 27 series over the next two years in the inaugural edition.
"Yes, it's definitely something we all are looking forward and every Test match every Test series is really special. The best thing about this cricket is you have to follow your routines every day. Get up early in the morning, follow the same routines. I'm really excited," he said.
Going down the memory lane, Rahane also recalled his Under-14 days when he played his first big match at the iconic Eden Gardens.
"I've special memories here. I played my first game here for West Zone in U-14 cricket," he said, giving away the annual prizes including the Lifetime Achievement Award to Arun Lal.
Rahane said Bengal has the biggest role model in Sourav Ganguly and the state players should look up to the former captain who transformed the Indian cricket.
"Bengal has produced a lot of great cricketers from Pankaj Roy to Jhulan Goswami but the biggest role model is sitting among us -- Sourav Ganguly. He completely transformed Indian cricket. We all have grown up following him. He's been truly inspirational," he said.
Rahane further urged the youngsters to take the club cricket seriously.
"Club cricket is always a stepping stone to graduate to the next level. Coming here, I am getting nostalgic about my childhood days. It's refreshing my old memories. I'm really happy to be here. I would like to thank Sourav Sir and CAB for inviting me here."