The secret life of Ajinkya Rahane, aged 32 and a half

Keep a secret, it’s your slave. Tell it, it’s your master. So said Henry Wilson, the American author and screenwriter. It’s an approach adopted by Ajinkya Rahane when he plays with cricketers from rival nations in the IPL.

“The top Indian cricketers may share the dressing-room with the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer,” said Rahane, “but they do not share their game plan, keeping the international cricket mind”.

With the multi-national nature of franchise cricket these days, competitors will one day be team-mates, the next opponents. In the most recent IPL, for example, Virat Kohli played alongside Moeen Ali, Johnny Bairstow partnered Wriddhiman Saha at the Sunrisers, Buttler, Stokes and Archer all rubbed shoulders with their Indian counterparts at the Rajasthan Royals, as did Sam Curran at CSK.

While that has bridged the gap between players from different countries, who happily mingle off the pitch and get to know each other much more as individuals, Rahane, India’s Test vice-captain for the four-match series against England, denies that too much knowledge and tactics is shared.

“We definitely play in the IPL [together], but Test cricket and IPL are completely different,” he told The Hindustan Times. “We do know how their bowlers bowl here, but length [that one bowls] is completely different in Test cricket from what they are in white-ball (formats),” he said.

Like a good poker player Ajinkya keeps his cards close to his chest.

“In the IPL, it’s not like we tell them everything and I think that is very important,” he added. “Yes, we have played a lot of cricket together, but when you represent the country, it is all about how best you can give individually and as a team.”

While he admitted that Archer and Stokes are key players for England, Rahane said that India could not ignore the balance of the opposition squad.

“Ben Stokes and (Jofra) Archer, they are really good players. [But] it is not about any individual,” he said. “The England team – they are a very balanced outfit which did really well recently against Sri Lanka.

“So for us, what is important is that we plan against all their guys.”

The next weeks will tell if those secrets held close in the IPL dressing room can surprise those team-mates now lining up against Kohli, Rahane et al.