Year after year, Chennai Super Kings have this habit of converting forgotten players into a superstar. After a dismal year at Rajasthan Royals, Robin Uthappa was offered a lifeline, which eventually finished with him winning the Indian Premier League. Last year, it was Shivam Dube, who turned out to be one of the best players for Chennai in an otherwise forgettable season.
This time around, Chennai have indeed surprised everyone by turning Ajinkya Rahane’s form over. Rahane until last year was viewed just as a backup option by the franchises, when Kolkata Knight Riders picked up him at the auction. Against his former side, Rahane walked out at 73/1 and walked back after scoring a 29-ball 71, a knock that saw Chennai post 235, their third-highest total in IPL history.
With a filter of a minimum of five innings, no other batter in this year’s tournament has a better strike-rate than Rahane. In fact, Rahane strikes at 199.1, with an average of 52.25, scoring 209 crucial runs for the Super Kings. But despite all of this, Rahane feels that the best is yet to come.
“I've enjoyed all my knocks so far, I still feel the best is yet to come. It is a great learning, I've played under Mahi bhai for India for many years, and now even at CSK it has been a great learning. If you listen to whatever he says, you will more often than not perform,” Rahane said at the post-match presentation.
When asked about his process, Rahane insisted that it was just a ‘clear mindset’ which allowed him to flourish freely in such a role for the Super Kings. Despite scoring with a strike-rate of 240, Rahane felt that the wicket was a bit sticky.
“Just had a clear mindset. If the thing between your ears is right, your mind is right then you'll be fine. I'm just trying to enjoy my game. The wicket was a bit sticky, but once you are in you have a great chance. We had a great start, and after that I wanted to play my shots and keep the momentum.”
Tough to digest for Rana
After being on the receiving end of another batting carnage, this time from Chennai, Kolkata Knight Riders skipper, Nitish Rana was lost for words. Despite the brutal loss, Rana credited Rahane for the knock, and insisted that some of his shots were great.
“Need to give credit to Jinks for carrying out whatever he was attempting. It's difficult to digest being taken for 235 runs on that pitch. We have not been improving in the tournament,” a stern Rana spoke at the post-match presentation.
Rana also insisted that KKR are repeating their mistakes, which is costing them one game after the other against top opposition. The southpaw also rued a low-scoring powerplay that essentially took any sort of momentum for the Knights at home.
“If we keep repeating our mistakes in such a big tournament against big teams, you are going to be behind. We needed to have a good start [in the powerplay] chasing such a big score, but couldn't get it and we were always behind in the game.”
With the win, Chennai have moved on to the top of the table, with ten points while Kolkata finds themselves languishing in the bottom half of the table, at eighth position with just two wins in seven clashes.