“Still got a lot of cricket left in me”, says Rahane ahead of India’s first Test against West Indies

Roseau [Dominica]: Ahead of the first Test against West Indies, Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said that his side is not going to take the Windies lightly despite their recent struggles, which also include not being able to secure a spot for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, and missing out on the global cricketing extravaganza for the first time ever.

India will kick off its ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 campaign with a two-Test series against West Indies, with the first Test from Wednesday in Dominica. “We have had good preparation. We played a nice practice match. We as a team respect West Indies. They are not the ones to be taken lightly. West Indies has performed well at home during the last couple of years or so, especially in Tests. We are looking to give our 100 per cent and backing our gameplan and strengths,” said Rahane in a pre-match press conference.

Rahane also expressed happiness for young Mumbai batter Yashasvi Jaiswal, who has been called up for the national side for this series and could make his international debut.

“I am so happy for Jaiswal, he has worked so hard, scored runs for Mumbai in domestic cricket and the IPL. He is an exciting talent and the way he is batting is nice. My message to him is that he expresses himself while batting, plays with freedom and does not think much about the fact that he is playing international cricket,” he said.

Jaiswal finished as the fifth-highest run scorer in IPL 2023, scoring 625 runs in 15 matches at an average of 48.07, with one century and five fifties. In his 15 first-class cricket appearances, he has scored 1,845 runs at an average of 80.21, with nine centuries and two fifties.

In the absence of Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahane said that there is an opportunity present for players to bat at number three.

Rahane expressed happiness on his return to the team and his role as vice-captain in the new WTC 2023-25 cycle.

“I am used to this role. I was vice-captain for 4-5 years. I am really happy to be back in the team, really happy to be back as vice-captain. I am still young, still a lot of cricket left in me. My IPL was good, so was my domestic cricket season. Currently, I am really enjoying my cricket. I do not want to think much about future. Now, every match is important, be it for me or from the team’s point of view. I am focusing on that,” he said.

Rahane said playing under Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL gave him freedom.
“I was given a role. I was earlier playing as an anchor. CSK told me to play my natural game. My natural game involves a lot of strokeplay and looking out for runs. Here, I will fulfill whatever role what Rohit (Sharma) gives me,” said Rahane.

Rahane had a solid IPL 2023, where he unleashed a never seen avatar of him which took attack to the bowlers from ball one. In 11 innings, he scored 326 runs at an average of 32.60 and a strike rate of 172.48. He had two half-centuries, including a knock of 71* in just 29 balls.

The vice-captain said that he likes playing under Rohit, someone with who he has played a lot of domestic cricket.

“I like playing under Rohit. The WTC final was my first match under Rohit. He gives everyone freedom and backs them. This is a good sign of a captain. My equation was him is really nice,” he added.

India’s Test squad against West Indies: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, Navdeep Saini.

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