2810 runs, 17 half centuries and 2 picturesque hundreds – these numbers say enough about how Ajinkya Rahane has contributedfor Rajasthan Royals over the years in the Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL). Jinks, as he is lovably known to the Royals Family, will be moving on to Delhi Capitals for the 2020 IPL season. While we wish him all the luck, we turn the clock on some of the finest moments and memories Rahane has given us over the years. 2011: Ajinkya Rahane made his debut for Rajasthan Royals in the 2011 IPL season. In his first game, against Delhi Daredevils, Rahane batted at number 5 and scored 18 in a successful chase. After batting in the middle order for most of the season, Rahane finally got his opportunity to bat in the top order. At number 3 against Chennai Super Kings, he got to his first half-century as a Royal. With limited opportunities to bat, Rahane could only manage to score 120 runs in the season. Having said that, he settled into the Royals Family with ease and we knew he was a vital player for us in the years to come. Later that year, he made his ODI and T20I debuts for Team India as well. 2012: Rahane started 2012 with a bang. He got his opportunity to open the innings and he grabbed it with both hands, responding positively to the move. Playing against Kings XI Punjab, Jinks walloped his way to 98 runs. He must have been disappointed to have missed his century by just 2 runs, but he gave the team a strong total. This marked the beginning of ‘Rahane the opener’ for Rajasthan Royals. Then came the big one – his maiden IPL century, also his first in the T20 format. Royal Challengers Bangalore were at the receiving end of a wide array of strokes, all around the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Rahane played as fluent a knock as one could imagine. He stayed unbeaten till the end taking RR to 195 runs. We won the match by 59 runs. Rahane finished as the highest run-getter for us in 2012, scoring 560 runs with 3 fifties and 1 hundred. This was the most number of runs he had scored for RR in one season. 2013: Yet another productive year for Ajinkya Rahane! The classy batsman managed to score 4 half-centuries in the season. His highest score was an unbeaten 68 against Mumbai Indians on a tough Jaipur deck. He guided us to 179 and our bowlers did a fine job of wrapping MI’s innings up on 92.Rahane scored three consecutive fifties in the latter half of the tournament, all of which proved to be match-winning knocks for the team. Rahane batted a lot alongside his idol, Rahul Dravid, during this season. Dravid, who was the captain of the team, imparted a lot of his knowledge and experience to Jinks. A few days ago, Rahane showered words of admiration for Dravid at a press conference. “He is my role model, and I have learned a lot from him in the past when we played together, and now as well”. 2014: Once again, Jinks started the season on the front foot. He scored a calm and composed 59 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, helping Rajasthan Royals get off to a winning start to the campaign in the UAE. He then scored a compact 72 against KKR to lay a solid foundation in the first innings. The match ended in one of our most memorable Super Over clashes. Rahane accumulated 3 fifties in the season, and gave some fine starts to the Royals’ innings on several occasions. He finished the season with 339 runs. 2015 Rahane finished the 2015 IPL season asthe second-highest run-getter of the season. He was just 22 runs behind David Warner. After a quiet outing in the first game of the season, Rahane rose to the occasion with five back-to-back 40+ scores for the Royals. Three of these five scores were half-centuries, and all of them came in winning causes. His highest score of the season came against Delhi Daredevils at the Brabourne Stadium. Rahane was at his disdainful best, punishing the likes of Zaheer Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Amit Mishra with his aggressive stroke play. He notched up 91 off 54 balls and the knock included 9 fours and 3 sixes. Rahane’s contributions went a long way in ensuring that the Royals made it to the Playoffs in 2015. It was one of his most successful years with us. 2018: Jinks was named captain of our side in 2018. He adapted to the new responsibility pretty quickly, leading the side well in tough situations. We had lost some of our initial games in the season and were left with a daunting task to make it to the Playoffs. We had to win almost all of our remaining games. The team stayed motivated under Rahane’s leadership and finally made it to the Playoffs on the back of some wonderful performances by the Royals. Ajinkya scored 370 runs in the season. He got numerous starts for the team and picked up one half-century along the way, against Sunrisers Hyderabad. In his first season leading the side, he did a fine job of leading us into the Playoffs. 2019: Rahane was our skipper for the first half of the tournament. 2019 saw him raise his strike rate quite a bit from the previous years. Striking at 138, Jinks smashed one half-century and a sublime century in the season. Rahane looked in pristine touch against SRH, scoring 70 runs and gave good company to centurion Sanju Samson in the process. At the Wankhede, where he has played a lot of his cricket,he smashed 37 quick runs off 21 balls to give RR the perfect start in what ended as asuccessful chase of 188 runs. Jinks’ century against Delhi Capitals had all the shots in the book – textbook and unorthodox. He glided down the track to spinners and used his bat like a whip against the pacers on his way to an unbeaten 105. He has been unbeaten in both his IPL centuries so far. He finished seven runs shy of 400 runs in the season. From learning to leading, Rahane has done it all at Rajasthan Royals. He is RR’s most capped player, having featured in 100 games and has given us some fine memories in the seven seasons. His legacy will live long in the Royals Family and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours on the field and off it. Halla Bol Jinks!
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