With a good outing in the West Indies series, India’s Test deputy Ajinkya Rahane had once again answered his critics who were questioning his spot in playing XI after an ordinary run of form in last two years. Rahane amassed 271 runs from four innings at 90.33 to help Team India register a clinical 2-0 victory versus West Indies. Despite the great run, Rahane feels the show against West Indies is a matter of past as he focusses to start afresh when India take on South Africa in the three-Test series starting from Wednesday.
Under pressure to deliver the goods, Rahane’s form was also crucial keeping in mind the ongoing ICC World Test Championship. Number one ranked India’s next assignment is against South Africa in the upcoming series. Despite India starting as favourites, the 31-year old Rahane feels the visitors deserve ‘respect’ given the number of good cricketers in their line-up.
“It is important to win the series because the World Test Championship has started. Also, you can’t take any team lightly and have to respect your opponents. With players like Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, who did well in the practice game, and Faf du Plessis in their ranks, South Africa have many experienced campaigners, so it is important to respect them. But at the same time, we have to play our game and as we know the conditions well, we must play as a unit and focus on our strengths,” Rahane told media persons ahead of 1st Test.
“I’m looking to be in the present, something that I did in the West Indies. I am looking to contribute to the team so that I don’t put pressure on myself. What happened in the West Indies is past and it is important to start fresh.”
When asked about the reasons behind his good run in the Caribbean, Rahane said he tried to focus more on the mental aspects as compared to the technical facets. “It was important for me to stay in my zone, to believe in my abilities. I wasn’t thinking much about the technical aspects… It was all about how I managed the mental adjustments like handling difficult situations and thinking about the team so that I could contribute. I was thinking more about the mental aspects and my ability rather than thinking about the technical points,” the 31-year-old Mumbai batsman said.
In the West Indies, Rahane shared some valuable partnerships with Hanuma Vihari. Vihari too, starred with the bat for India, scoring 289 runs from four innings. On batting with Vihari, Rahane said that ‘good communication’ between them was the key to their success. “I think when you bat, it is important to trust your partner, be it a batsman or a bowler. With Vihari batting at No. 6, it was important to communicate as when the No. 5 and No. 6 are batting together, it is crucial to asses the situation.
“It is important to communicate and see how the planning to bowl. We both communicated well, we knew when we had to attack or when to defend… So communication was the key,” Rahane said.
Rahane, however, didn’t clarify on the speculation over India’s playing XI for the first Test.
“Team combination will depend on the wicket and the conditions. I think when Vihari bowls, it really makes a difference. In India, we hardly see three fast bowlers playing, so it will depend on the surface and the conditions,” Rahane concluded.