'I am still young..' - Rahane counters age query on Test comeback
Even as the world acknowledges the Indian Test team is approaching a transition phase with multiple youngsters spread around declining experienced heads, Ajinkya Rahane isn't willing to budge to those lines yet. The middle-order giant, who has been on comeback trail since the World Test Championship (WTC) final after 18 months, says he doesn't believe he is too old to produce the goods for the country.
With Cheteshwar Pujara gone, the only traces of the old guard part of the Test contingent in the Caribbean are visible in Rahane, who crossed 35 last month, and the famed duo of Virat Kohli, 34, and Rohit Sharma, 36. How many years more these veterans can give to India's Test match game remains a massive uncertainty.
While Rahane's comeback was partly a result of spree of injuries after being dropped for a sustained dip, Kohli has been enduring the longest lean patch a bonafide great has faced in the modern times. Of the trio, Rohit is the only one averaging above 40 since the pandemic but signs are there that even he is on the brink of a slide.
Rahane, though, personally feels he is on the right track. Having gone through the grind of first-class game for Mumbai and enjoying a fruitful IPL 2023, he also looked the best Indian player during the WTC final at The Oval with scores of 89 and 46 and will be vying for a couple of major scores versus the Calypso Kings.
Rahane defends questions on age upon Test return
Speaking to the press ahead of the first Test in Dominica starting Wednesday (July 12), Ajinkya Rahane posed a stern defence of queries on his age and decline, and insisted he is treating this as the late wing to his career after being identified by the think-tank as the man for the job in South Africa early next year amidst injuries to Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer.
"Is age mein matlab? Main abhi bhi young hoon yaar [What do you mean by 'at this age'? I am still young]." Rahane said. "There is still a lot of cricket left in me. Definitely, the IPL season was pretty good and I had a very good domestic season as well."
"Batting wise, I am feeling quite confident. In the last year and a half, I have worked quite a bit on my fitness. I have worked on some areas of my batting as well. I am enjoying my cricket and my batting at the moment. I don’t want to think far ahead. As of now, every match is important - personally and from the team point of view as well. I am focusing on that."
Rahane also said he isn't perturbed by the noise around him and pressed home a point he relishes the vice-captaincy tag without taking to it as a burden or extra responsibility, which might plague him as he tries to revitalise his Test game.
"I am used to this role. I was the vice-captain for almost 4-5 years, but I am really happy to be back in the team and really happy to be back as the vice-captain," he concluded.