Ajinkya Rahane was not expected to feature in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, but in his first game for his new franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK), he may have given the team management a thing or two to think about. Rahane smashed 61 off just 27 deliveries as CSK chased down 158 with minimal fuss. The batter smashed seven fours and three sixes in his stroke-filled knock to help CSK to their second win of the season.
The veteran batter has credited his excellent form in domestic cricket for his performance in the IPL. Rahane had a terrific first-class season in which he scored 884 runs at 58.93, which included three tons and a fifty in 16 innings. While his 50-over record too has been impressive (263 runs at 65.75) his T20 record was bit of a suspect having managed just 112 runs at 16 from eight outings.
Rahane ensured it was not an issue as he took the Mumbai Indians (MI) bowlers apart.
“When I went in it was all about playing my normal game, back my strength. My preparation has been really good. I had a very good domestic season this year. It was all about grabbing this opportunity and I’m happy that I did really well,” Rahane said during the post-match conference.
“Every player is different, their strengths are different. I don’t want to be someone else, I just want to be Ajinkya Rahane. I know my strengths and my timing so I just want to back myself. It’s all about reminding myself that I can be Ajinkya Rahane and play like Ajinkya Rahane and as long as I can do that I’ll be fine,” he added.
Rahane revealed that the key was to show intent in the first six overs.
“When we were bowling, I got an idea of how the wicket was playing so that helped me a lot while batting.. When you are chasing 150-160, you have got to bat with intent in the first six overs. If you get a good start then it becomes really easy," Rahane who was bought by CSK for his base price of INR 50 lakh in the latest auction, said.
The India batter also revealed his skipper MS Dhoni has asked him to back his game. “Instructions from him were pretty simple; just back your game. Play to your strengths other than trying to do something else," Rahane said.
“I was really happy when I got to know CSK picked me. I had heard a lot about CSK’s atmosphere. It’s like a family."
Not enough runs on the board: Boucher
Succumbing to thier second loss in a row in IPL 2023, MI head coach Mark Boucher said that 157 was not a good total on the Wanhede surface. CSK spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner shared five wickets between them and went as just run-a-ball that clipped MI's wings. To add to their woes, Rahane looked in fine form throughout.
"Rahane played some good cricket shots but it was their bowling that hurt us at the end of the day," Boucher said.
"Look at our bowlers and their batters. We have not had enough runs on the board. In the game of T20 cricket, especially, now when we have impact players, we had seven batters today. For us to make 157 was not good enough on that wicket. We probably should have got 180-190."
"So full credit to them. [There were] a couple of lucky dismissals. That Surya [Suryakumar Yadav] shot probably should have gone for a four. It was unlucky for him that he got caught [by MS Dhoni behind the stumps]."
Boucher said the team would continue to back Suryakumar Yadav despite his lean patch. "Surya is an extremely talented cricketer, one of the world's best T20 cricketers, if not the best," Boucher said.
"He has not had the weight of runs of late but he is a fantastic player. Hope he can come good for us in the near future. I don't want to put too much pressure on him. We all know what he can do. That is just the game of cricket. Sometimes you go through patches."
Boucher revealed England pacer Jofra Archer had a niggle and hoped he would be available for the next game. "He picked up a little niggle. We have got a fantastic medical team. They are looking after him. He is a massive player. Hope he will be back soon," Boucher said.
MI will hope to get off the mark in IPL 2023 against a struggling Delhi Capitals (DC) unit when they face each other in Delhi on Tuesday (April 11). CSK, on the other hand, will look to make it three wins on the trot against the high-flying Rajasthan Royals (RR) on Wednesday (April 12) at Chepauk.