Ajinkya Rahane, the Mumbai batsman, has set his sights on winning an India cap after his career-best 201 helped his side crush Orissa by 315 runs to earn a place in the quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy's Super League.
Rahane, 20, has been in terrific form this season, leading the run charts with 762 from six matches. He said Sunday's double-century, which completed Mumbai's recovery after they folded for 180 in the first innings, was the best knock of his career. "My plan was to keep it simple and play my natural game on the merit of the ball and not go for rash shots," he told DNA. "I learnt from my mistakes in the first innings and didn't want to repeat them. My aim was just to stand there and give Mumbai the upper hand."
He said his job was not finished yet. "We have just played the league and qualified for the quarterfinals and it will be important to score in the knockout stages," he said. "My aim is to play for India. I am going on the right track but my priority is to score runs in crucial matches."
Rahane had a chance to impress the national selectors after being picked for India A against Australia A in September but failed to cash in on the opportunity. Mumbai coach Pravin Amre praised him for not letting his shoulders droop after that setback. "He worked on his mental aspect and the approach," Amre said. "He is a talented player with the right technique and is good opening material for India."
Amre was also delighted with the performance of medium-pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, another member of that India A squad who has been on song this season. Kulkarni, playing his first season, was given the responsibility of leading a young bowling attack (combined experience of eight first-class matches, including two debutants) and responded with a five-wicket haul in the first innings. "After the experience he has gained from Australia, he has become a special bowler," Amre told the Indian Express. "Taking 32 wickets [from six matches] on flat pitches is an amazing feat."