Ajinkya Rahane declares that he still has a lot of cricket left in him

Ajinkya Rahane also spoke about how India cannot afford to take West Indies lightly.

India will be taking on West Indies in the first Test on July 12. Ahead of the Test series, the team’s vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane spoke about how the visitors cannot afford to underestimate West Indies.

The Caribbean side have had their fair share of struggles lately and have underperformed on the big stages. They failed to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, set to be hosted in India. It will be the first time that the West Indies - two-time World Champions - will be absent from the marquee ODI event in their history.

After suffering a defeat to Australia in the final of the ICC World Test Championship, India will be looking to begin the 2023-25 cycle on a positive note and win the two-Test series against West Indies.

The first Test will be held in Dominica, starting on Wednesday.

"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.

India will miss veteran Cheteshwar Pujara for this series. There is no doubt that Pujara continues to be an instrumental part of the Test side and is a rock at the number three position. Rahane said that he’s looking to embrace added responsibilities, some of which arrive from being the vice-captain of the team.

The 35-year-old also declared that he still has a lot of cricket left in him.

"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.

When asked about how IPL 2023 revitalised his career, Rahane stressed that he found a lot of freedom within the Chennai Super Kings setup.

"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 Rohit (Sharma) gives me," said Rahane.

Rahane had an exceptional IPL 2023 season, revealing an unprecedented version of himself that launched an aggressive assault on the bowlers right from the first ball. Across 11 innings, he amassed a total of 326 runs, showcasing an average of 32.60 and an impressive strike rate of 172.48. He played a major role behind the side winning their fifth IPL trophy.