Rahane thanks Dravid, Tendulkar after maiden ton
Ajinkya Rahane thanked his "role model" Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar after scoring a maiden Test hundred in Wellington. Rahane, playing his fifth Test, came in at No 7 when India were still trailing New Zealand and fell after the lead had swelled to 231. His century helped India finish with a first-innings lead of 246.
"I have been following him (Dravid) from my childhood," Rahane said. "He is my role model and I have played with him in the Indian team and also with Rajasthan Royals. I learned a lot, on and off the field and just want to thank Rahul bhai.
"Also Sachin paaji, because during his last two Test matches he told me about my batting. He said, 'I have been following you, your hard work, fitness, how you have conducted yourself. Be the same and your chance will surely come.' So thanks to both of them."
Rahane had fallen short of a century by four runs in his third Test in Durban. At the time, the Indian tail was collapsing and, in trying to get to the landmark in a hurry, with last man Mohammed Shami for company, Rahane swung at Vernon Philander only to be bowled. This time, his companion was Zaheer Khan, who cannot exactly be relied upon to hang around.
Rahane said he knew there was a lot of difference between getting 96 and getting 100, but added he was not thinking about what had happened in Durban.
"In South Africa, when I got 96, I wanted to get that hundred, because the first hundred is really special," he said. "Those four runs were really crucial at that time (in Durban). I know how crucial four runs are now, because a hundred is a hundred. When you get out on 96, it comes in fifties.
"This time I wasn't thinking about my hundred, I just wanted to play one ball at a time. I just wanted to be there as long as possible and play my shots and keep as much strike as possible.
"We were eight down and Zaheer Khan was batting so I told him I will try to play four-five balls and take a single on the last ball. That really helped me because I was in the present and was not thinking about what is going to happen. I just told him to play the way he liked. I told him I am not thinking about my hundred, that I will try and back my ability and my shots. Whatever happens will happen."
Rahane eventually made it to a century with a pulled four off Corey Anderson and the batsman said it was hard to describe what he felt at that time.
"I don't know how to explain (my feelings after reaching the hundred). A Test hundred is always special. A first hundred, I will remember it for a long time... it's a special hundred for me. Tomorrow is a crucial day for us and hopefully the bowlers will do their remaining job."
Rahane said he wanted to take his time at the crease after walking in to bat with the score at 165 for 5. MS Dhoni's counterattack, after Virat Kohli fell, also helped him.
"I just wanted to play my game, whatever I have been playing in domestic cricket, and continue that. He (Dhoni) gave me a lot of confidence," Rahane said. "I had batted with him in South Africa. He just told me to back myself, play my shots. He said: 'Play one ball at a time, that's it, don't think too much.' That really helped me a lot and gave me good confidence."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo