Among the Indian cricket stars present at an awards night here on Monday, India’s new Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane stood out.

Stylishly dressed in a classy black suit, Rahane walked away with the Special Award for his back-to-back hundreds against South Africa in each innings in the third Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla last December.

Like his predecessor Sachin Tendulkar, Rahane is seen as an example for his discipline, dedication and hard work. Not to forget his elegant batting and the crucial knocks that he has for his teams.
Rahane not only cares about his image on the field, but off it too. Controversies and negativity are a strict no for him. And, that he believes as an Indian cricketer or an individual, one needs to look good and stylish most of the time.

“I am just still learning about styling and look. It is important to look good – best and stylish as a professional cricketer or even as a normal human being. It is important how you carry yourself off the field,” he told dna.

The talk of his new responsibility in the Test team – his appointment as deputy to Virat Kohli for the Test series in the West Indies in July-August – brings a smile on his face.

“It is a new responsibility. I enjoy taking responsibility. I’m looking forward to the West Indies series,” he said.

“I went there three-four years back with India ‘A’. It is going to be a challenging series, considering that the West Indies are playing good cricket. They have a young team. As a team, we are playing really well, especially Test cricket. Playing in the West Indies is going to be a different challenge for us,” he added.

Starting from the series in South Africa – an attractive 96 in Durban in 2013 – Rahane has scored runs everywhere he has been to, including New Zealand, England, Australia and Sri Lanka. The Caribbean islands are the only place left where he has to prove himself.

“For me, I always believe every series as equally important – whether Australia, South Africa or New Zealand. Every tour is important, every country has different challenges. You will get different conditions in West Indies.

Playing there, you have to respect the team though they are new. You’ve to play according to the situation and prepare well before the series, get used to the conditions as quickly as possible once you land there and just play normal cricket,” Rahane said.

“I don’t think about results but think about things that I can control and the result will automatically follow. It is important to be there in the present, respect the conditions and opponents. The results will follow,” he added.

Although Rahane has been to the West Indies once, he has memories from a previous series when India toured the islands. “The most memorable moment was watching (Curtly) Ambrose and (Courtney) Walsh bowling to Sachin (Tendulkar) paaji. They did not bowl a single half-volley till 12-14 overs. His ability to stay patient and absorb the pressure was different. That is why he is such a great player. I was so young at that time. That is the memory I have.”

Just like Tendulkar, Rahane too believes in being patient. “Every situation is different. How you read is different. Patience obviously is the key in Test cricket. Sometimes, you just have to bat the whole session if bowlers are bowling well. You just have to see that spell through and then dominate in another session. Patience will be the key in another session,” said Rahane, who is also a Brian Lara fan.

Having played on different conditions in other countries, the Mulund resident will have special preparations before leaving. “I think Jamaica and Barbados have good bounce and pace. I love playing on bouncy wickets. I think there will be some help for spinners as well on some of the grounds,” he said.

After his back-to-back tons in Delhi, Rahane has been busy playing limited overs cricket including the World T20 and a successful IPL as a batsman. He is keen on carrying on the momentum in the West Indies.

“Obviously, that is past now because after that we played ODIs and T20s. I have been batting really well at the moment and in good shape and rhythm. The thing is, it is just a matter of getting used to the conditions, getting your mindset right before the series starts. That’s what I did even before One-dayers and T20s. The thinking was to keep mindset right, get used to the conditions and adjust quickly. I don’t like to keep it complicated, but simple.”