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Rahul Dravid and coffee: Ajinkya Rahane reveals how he rediscovered his batting before 2019 West Indies tour

India Test vice-captain and middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has explained why he was going through a phase in his career about a year ago when he was consistently failing to touch 3-figures despite putting in decent scores. On the latest episode of India Today Inspiration, Rahane recalled the period from September 2017 to January 2019 when he failed to score a Test hundred despite hitting 5 fifties against various oppositions.

During the 2019 World Cup, while India under Virat Kohli were vying for the coveted trophy, Rahane was playing his trade closeby albeit in a different format altogether – County cricket with Hampshire. While Rahane conceded that the short county spell felt good, he used his off-time during the stint to dwell on his game and soon came up with a solution.

“I thought I had spent my time really good at Hampshire. It was not all about cricketing experiences but also on my off-days I used to walk alone with a cup of coffee in my hand and I used to think about how I used to play in my younger days when I made my debut in the Ranji Trophy. So I actually went back and the answer that I got was to play fearless cricket. To back my instincts; I wasn’t thinking about results or outcomes. That’s what was happening during those one-and-a-half years when I was thinking about results,” explained Rahane.

Before the West Indies tour of 2019, Rahane also met his India senior and former captain Rahul Dravid at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) – a meeting which also reinforced his faith in his own game.

“Then I think spending time at the NCA before the West Indies tour and that chat I had with Rahul bhai. He told me: ‘You should go out there looking for that challenge, don’t worry about getting those hundreds.’ Because personally I know that I was scoring runs. I wasn’t scoring those big hundreds but I was actually contributing for my team getting 70s, 80s and 90s.

“He just told me to go out there and enjoy my batting and hundreds would come automatically and that’s what I did. He just said: ‘You are a good player; just keep yourself calm while batting. You don’t have to prove to anyone. Just go out there and be yourself.’ From then on I have been just trying to play fearless cricket, think about the situations, be aware of what’s going on in those particular moments and react accordingly.

“When I was getting out in the 70s and 80s I was actually thinking about my 100, my personal milestone. A lot of times it happens that you are close to a hundred on 80-odd and you start thinking about playing cautiously. So at some level, my game used to get affected, my attacking instincts were getting suppressed. But now even if I am in the 90s, if the ball is there to be hit I will hit it. If the hundred is to come, it will happen,” concluded Rahane.

On that West Indies tour, Rahane emerged as India’s match-winner scoring 271 runs across 2 Tests including that elusive hundred in North Sound. Since then Rahane hasn’t looked back hitting another ton vs South Africa in Ranchi late last year.

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