India in South Africa 2013-14 November 26, 2013

Rahane gearing up to grab opportunity

The morning after Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test ended at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Ajinkya Rahane arrived at the Mumbai Cricket Association's facility at Bandra-Kurla Complex, and began working long hours in the nets with former Mumbai coach Pravin Amre to prepare for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

"I've been practising with Amre sir and playing the short balls for the last nine-ten days with a wet rubber ball and plastic ball. I am sure that will help me a lot." Rahane told reporters at the Wankhede Stadium, a day after he was named in India's squad for the Test and ODI series in South Africa.

Despite being a regular in India's squad for more than two years, Rahane has rarely featured in the XI. However, Rahane is now believed to be the frontrunner to fill up the spot vacated by Tendulkar in the Test team.

"We will obviously miss Sachin a lot. Someone like Sachin has not only been a part of the Indian team for almost 24 years but has also carried the burden of all the expectations on his shoulders. We all will definitely miss him. At the same time, it's an opportunity for some of us, especially myself. But I don't want to be bogged down by the pressure. I just want to enjoy the moment and enjoy my opportunity."

Rahane's inclusion in the ODI squad came as a surprise to many and it indicated that he wouldn't be tagged as a Test specialist. "Having been selected for the ODIs as well, I am really happy for myself," he said. "I did well in the last CLT20 and I am really confident and looking forward to the series."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo