'My aim is to instill confidence in the players' - Rahane
A couple of weeks ago, Ajinkya Rahane couldn't even make India's ODI XI, but after surprisingly being named captain for the limited-overs tour of Zimbabwe, the batsman has said that he is "very confident to handle this new responsibility."
Rahane's game had come under criticism during the Bangladesh ODIs, with MS Dhoni suggesting that Rahane struggled to rotate the strike on slower pitches. Rahane, though, felt the captaincy offered him an opportunity to improve his batting in the shorter formats, and said that he had a "great hunger to learn".
"I know how capable I am and I believe in myself. I have learned a lot from whatever cricket I have played in the last four-five years," Rahane told BCCI.tv. "I wasn't thinking about the captaincy. I didn't know about it. It came as a surprise, but whatever domestic and international cricket I've played gave me confidence. I am a very hardworking guy. I always want to be the best in the world and I know my capabilities."
While Rahane has led in just two matches in senior representative cricket, he said he had picked up a "lot of ideas" from playing under Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and Rahul Dravid, his captain at Rajasthan Royals.
"Under Dhoni bhai, I have learnt a lot from his calmness and the way he handles everything on the field. Virat's controlled aggression, which you can see in his batting and captaincy, is something I want to learn from him.
"Rahul (Dravid) bhai likes to keep things really simple and I was with him in Rajasthan Royals. I have my own ideas and I know what I have to do on the field. Obviously the senior players who will be there with me will advise me. The three things I have learned from those three captains are calmness, controlled aggression, and keeping things simple.
"This has always been a part of me and I never spoke to Rahul bhai about captaincy in particular, but he spoke about how he would plan things as a captain. I've also observed Dhoni bhai closely, how he would plan, how his mindset would be. As a captain, you need to think from different angles according to the situation which is very important."
Speaking specifically about the forthcoming challenge from Zimbabwe, Rahane said he had always taken every international side seriously, irrespective of their ranking, and that it wouldn't change next week. He added that he had full faith in the squad picked by the BCCI.
"As a captain, it's important to back your players and give them confidence. It is very important to lead from the front, be positive and back your team. Whatever international side we play, we take them seriously. My motive would be to give all youngsters confidence; guys who came back, speak with them, give them confidence and motivate them.
"I think this is a good team. Guys who did well in the IPL and domestic season have got their rewards. Every player played their part, and I'm really excited. They are great team-mates and I am looking forward to joining them."