Rohit gives freedom, he has all traits of great captain: Rahane

Rahane made a comeback to red-ball cricket after a gap of 18 months when he was included in the World Test Championships final against Australia last month.
Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (File Photo | BCCI Twitter)
Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (File Photo | BCCI Twitter)

ROSEAU: India skipper Rohit Sharma gives a lot of freedom to his players and has all the traits of a great captain, said Ajinkya Rahane ahead of the two-Test series against West Indies starting here on Wednesday.

Rahane made a comeback to red-ball cricket after a gap of 18 months when he was included in the World Test Championships final against Australia last month.

A veteran of 83 Test matches, Rahane, who was deputy to former skipper Virat Kohli in the past, has been named the India vice-captain for the West Indies series.

"I am used to this role. I was vice-captain for almost four-five years. I am really happy to be back in the team and really happy to be back as a vice-captain," Rahane told reporters on Monday.

"WTC final was the first game where I played under Rohit Sharma's captaincy.

Rohit gives freedom to all the players and those are good traits of a great captain," said Rahane, who had led India to the famous Test series win in Australia in 2019-2020.

"What do you mean by at this age? I am still young" 

Rahane was left a tad irritated when he was asked about his comeback to the national team at the age of 35, insisting he is still young and has a lot of cricket left in him.

"What do you mean by at this age? I am still young yaar (friend). There's still a lot of cricket in me," he said.

"I had a good IPL and domestic season. I have grown in confidence as a batter but in the past one and half year I have also worked a lot on my fitness.

"I have worked on few aspects of my batting. At the moment I am enjoying my cricket. I am not thinking too much about the future. For now every match is important for me." Rahane returned to the team on the back of a good Ranji season and his impressive run for Chennai Super Kings during the 2023 IPL.

"In the IPL, CSK has given me freedom. As a player when you have been given a role, you try to fulfil it. Before this in the IPL my role was to be an anchor but CSK team management gave me the freedom and they wanted me to play my natural game," said Rahane, who smashed 326 runs at a strike rate of 172.49.

"I am a natural stroke player. So just my role has changed. I always look to fullfill the role assigned to me and here also I will look to fullfill the role that Rohit gives me." India left out Cheteshwar Pujara while senior pacer Mohammed Shami is being rested for the West Indies series and Rahane said it will be a great opportunity for the others to raise their hands.

"It would be great opportunity for that individual who will be playing in place of Pujara. I am not sure who is going to play at No 3 but I am sure whoever will get the chance will do well," he said.

"For the fast bowlers, who are going to play in place of Shami, too will have a great chance. Siraj is there, Jaydev is also experienced. It's an opportunity for everyone to do well.

"Mohammed Shami obviously is a senior bowler, he has done well for us but you need to give rest to him because there is a long season ahead."

Jaiswal a really exciting talent

Rahane was effusive in his praise for young Yashasvi Jaiswal, who is likely to make his debut at No.3 for India.

"Firstly, I am really happy for him (Jaiswal). He is a really exciting talent. He has done exceptionally well in the domestic cricket for Mumbai and then in the IPL for the Rajasthan Royals.

"Most importantly the way he is batting in the red ball. He did well in the Duleep Trophy last year. His numbers are really good.

"My message to him will be just express your batting, don't think too much about the International cricket. It's all about going out in the middle and playing your game."

India is facing West Indies at a time when their opponents are at an all-time low, having failed to qualify for the ODI World Cup, but Rahane said they are just focusing on their game plan.

"We have played two-day practice game. Preparation wise, we have covered all the areas. It's all about starting well in Test cricket. We respect West Indies. Focus is on our game plan, strength and keep backing our team plan," he said.

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