Rahane plays late, very fine

It was towards the end of the 2010/11 Ranji season that the then Mumbai coach Pravin Amre heard a knock on his hotel room's door. It wasn't a surprise when Amre saw Ajinkya Rahane standing at the doorstep, for the talented young batsman was known to frequent his room on match days to discuss his batting and techniques. This time, however, Rahane's troubles were of the deeper kind.

Rahane wasn't worried about his shot selection. Instead, he asked a question that was begging to be asked. "What more do I have to do to make it to the Indian team?" asked a frustrated Rahane, one of domestic cricket's most prolific scorers over the last few seasons.

Having earned the reputation of being a Mumbai run-machine so early in his career, it was natural for the youngster to think of getting a national call-up. Rahane, according to Amre, was entering a phase of depression.

The great depression

"There are two types of depression that a cricketer undergoes in his career," Amre explains. "One, when he's not scoring runs; the other when his efforts aren't rewarded. Rahane was going through the second type."

Rahane was of course scoring centuries for fun every season. But at the end of it, the all-important Team India call-up remained elusive. "As a result, he was getting depressed," recalls Amre.

The situation was a tricky one. The only vacancy India had was at the top. But Rahane, who once opened regularly for Mumbai and scored plenty of runs, had dropped down the order to become a middle-order batsman. So as the selection committee picked those with lesser domestic credentials for the England tour, Rahane watched helplessly. Many a time, the 23-year old insisted: "I can bat at any position."

Remembering that evening, Amre admits he didn't have a clear answer to Rahane's query, but persuaded the youngster to not give up. "Playing for Mumbai means Rahane will be watched very closely, so exposure was never a problem. It was important that he doesn't lose his focus. I told him to leave every concern aside and just wait for his turn," says Amre. Rahane then pinned his hopes on the IPL.

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