Team India batsman Ajinkya Rahane will aim to replicate his performance in red-ball cricket in the highly anticipated tour of England which starts July. Rahane assures that the Indian team will put up a good show on English soil in the five-match Test series which starts on August 1 at Edgbaston.
A prolific batsman in the longest format of the game, the 30-year old Rahane will lead the Indian cricket team against Afghanistan, who will play their first ever international Test match in Bengaluru, starting on June 14.
In an exclusive interview with IndiaTV, Rahane spoke about the upcoming challenges, Afghanistan's Test debut, India's tour of England and also his stint as Rajasthan Royals captain in the Indian Premier League 2018.
Afghanistan have shown some serious talent in form of their world-class spinner who have impressed everyone in the IPL, the young bowlers have shown the skills and guile to fox the best of the batters in business.
"As a player, every Test match is important. We will not take them (Afghanistan) lightly as we know that the team comprises of good players such as Rashid Khan, who has performed brilliantly in the IPL for the past two years. The team has plenty of talent. So our focus is on the Test match, be it any opponent, is to put up a good performance and to back the positives and strengths rather than focussing on the opponents."
Rashid Khan, a 19-year old spinner, sits at the top of the table in the ICC T20 bowlers' rankings. His performance in the past two years for Sunrisers Hyderabad has astonished some of the greats of the game, in the cash-rich IPL. However, Rashid will have to be at his best if he wants to make a similar impact with the red ball.
The 30-year old was proud of the fact that Afghanistan was recognised in Test cricket and as they play their maiden match in 'whites', however, the middle-order batsman said that the team's priority is to focus on their strengths and put up a good performance at the end of the day.
"For cricket, it's a huge deal that Afghanistan got its Test recognition and we will play with them, but our main aim to focus on our strengths."
Shifting focus onto one of the biggest challenges for Team India which is the upcoming England tour, Rahane feels the team is more than ready and are up for the task to put up a better performance in the challenging English conditions. He says each player should pitch in as it is a big opportunity that could prove to be the turning point in their careers.
"Our priority is to do better this time than the last, especially as a team we should play well. It is a good opportunity for us to go and perform well and our main aim is to do well personally and register a win for the country."
India last played a Test series was when they travelled to South Africa in the beginning of the year, where they lost 2-1. However, Rahane has taken the positives out of that one win and feels that the current Test squad has enough experience to take on the Joe Root led England in their home.
"Every series is important. Be it T20I, ODI or Test, when you represent the country, every match is important for you and the commitment as well. We learnt a lot from all the series in the South Africa tour, and the last time we visited England, we had a new team but now they are all experienced. As a unit, as a team, we will play good cricket," Rahane.
Coming down to his maiden stint to captain Rajasthan Royals in the 11th edition of the IPL, Rahane said that experience has been fun, challenging and quite different. Rajasthan made their return to the league after serving a two-year ban but made an impact as Rahane led the Royals to the playoffs along with Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings.
"It has been a great experience (IPL), got to learn quite a lot and when you captain an IPL team, the experience is entirely different as you captain players from around the world. The challenges were a lot but it was fun. A few players such as Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes had to miss out during the IPL, but the way we faced the challenges, the way our bowlers performed, I was proud as a captain. To come back after two years and reach the playoffs is a challenge itself and I am proud of that," concluded Rahane.