‘Virat was and will always be the captain of the Test team, and I am his deputy’
Says India’s win in Australia “changes nothing”; gives “complete credit” to his team-mates for the result
Edited PTI copy.
Ajinkya Rahane won many fans with his astute captaincy during India’s triumph in Australia but he has made it clear that the leader of the side remains Virat Kohli, for whom he is happy “filling in” when required.
Come February 5, Rahane will once again be India’s Test vice-captain, against England, with Kohli back in charge. Will things be different now, though? “Nothing changes. Virat was and will always be the captain of the Test team and I am his deputy. When he was absent, it was my duty to lead the side and my responsibility to give my best for Team India’s success,” Rahane told PTI, while on his way to Chennai for the England series.
Rahane said his relationship with Kohli has always been smooth. “Me and Virat have always shared a good bonding with each other. He has, time and again, praised my batting. Both of us played memorable knocks for our team in India and overseas conditions. It only helped that Virat comes at No. 4 and myself at No. 5 – we have had a lot of partnerships.
“We have always backed each other’s game. When we are at the crease, we discuss threadbare about opposition’s bowling. We caution each other whenever one of us plays a rash shot.”
And how does he find Kohli as a captain? “Virat is a sharp captain. He takes good on-field decisions. Whenever the spinners are in operation, he is banking on me and he believes that taking those catches at slips off [R] Ashwin and [Ravindra] Jadeja is one of my core competence areas.
“When you win a match or a series, it’s always a collective effort and not because of singular man’s contribution. It’s your team-mates who make you a good leader.”
“Virat expects a lot from me and I try and ensure I do not let him down,” Rahane, who is 13 short of a milestone of 100 catches in Tests, said.
People may have spotted a “leader” in Rahane down under, but he downplayed his role in the victory. “With regards to leadership, I can only say that it varies from person to person. A captain is as good as his team. When you win a match or a series, it’s always a collective effort and not because of singular man’s contribution.
“It’s your team-mates who make you a good leader. The complete credit of this series win belongs to my team.”
Rahane’s classy hundred in the Melbourne Test, according to India’s head coach Ravi Shastri, was a catalyst for change. Having been through rough patches with the bat in recent past, does Rahane feel more secure about his place in the Test side after that innings?
“Honestly speaking, I never ever felt that my place in the side was ever in danger. The captain and team management always had faith in me,” Rahane said. “Yes, sometimes in few series, a player is off-colour but that doesn’t mean that his class is gone. A player needs only one knock to get back to his form.
“When I was going through a bad patch, my captain boosted my morale. It’s always comforting to know that you have his backing and you are then focused on giving your best without any worries.”