India captain Ajinkya Rahane tried to douse the quarantine controversy on Wednesday (6 January 2020), stating that his team is "not annoyed" with strict bio-safety protocols but conceded that it was "challenging" to be confined when life outside their five-star facility here seems to be "normal".
There have been unconfirmed media reports that the Indian contingent has been unhappy with the quarantine protocols in Sydney where they have been confined to hotel and even stricter rules issued for venue of the fourth Test Brisbane, where they wouldn't even move out of their respective rooms.
"We are not at all annoyed but yes there are some challenges in quarantine as life in Sydney is completely normal. We are not at all annoyed and we know what's our priority here," the Indian captain made it clear while fielding a series of questions on the eve of the third Test.
It is understood that the Queensland hotel will have an IPL like bio-bubble in which players can mingle. Rahane, while sidestepping on unconfirmed series pull-out threats, made it clear that the focus is on the Test match starting tomorrow at the SCG.
Players can't be faulted for feeling a bit jaded considering they have been in Australia for the past seven weeks moving from one bubble to another but the skipper said the new normal needs to be embraced.
"We all are prepared and we want to play some good cricket. We know that life in Sydney is normal but players are stuck in their rooms which is okay. We know how to handle it and we are prepared for any kind of situation.
"It's about being in the moment and playing some good cricket," said India's hero of eight-wicket victory in Melbourne.
"First thing first, we are not complaining on anything and we are just focussed on the game. Just want to start well."
While he was repeating the same answer for all the quarantine-related queries, he evaded the question about the team returning home after the completion of the third Test in Sydney.
"We as players are just focussing on this Test match and management, they will take the decision. For us, it's all about giving our best on the field. Test match is starting tomorrow and we want to do well as a team and win the Test match," said the non-controversial team leader.
As per sources, the BCCI and CA top brass are currently engaged in a discussion on possible relaxations that the players can get in Queensland.
"If players are together in the field then how can they just be confined to the rooms on coming back to the hotel. At least they can interact with each other and have meals together in the evening," a BCCI source said.
Ashwin's knack for learning new things, Jadeja's improved batting is massive for us: Rahane
The ever inquisitive Ravichandran Ashwin, who has a knack for learning new things, and much-improved batsman Ravindra Jadeja have stood out for India in the first two Tests against Australia, Rahane said.
While Ashwin is currently leading the wicket-takers' chart with 10 scalps, Jadeja's half-century and the hundred plus stand with skipper Rahane in the second Test formed the cornerstone of India's eight-wicket win in Melbourne.
Asked about the hallmark of Ashwin's greatness, Rahane said, "He is always looking to learn new things. He has good skills but is always looking to learn new things, and that's what makes Ashwin great."
The captain couldn't be more happier with the Tamil Nadu tweaker's success.
"I hope that he continues for next two Test matches and do the job for us," said Rahane.
If Ashwin's improvisation has impressed Rahane, he is mighty pleased with Jadeja's Test match application which adds the necessary balance the team has often lacked.
"As a batsman Ravindra Jadeja has improved a lot and that is a massive point as a team's perspective," Rahane said.
"When you know that your number seven can contribute with the bat, that becomes really easy for you to actually get that (decent) total and obviously in the field, you have seen him taking some brilliant catches.
"So yes his addition in the team helped us a lot and he has been really fantastic and it is really great for us," he said.
Happy with Rohit Sharma's addition to the playing XI, the skipper informed hat his deputy has had some seven to eight net sessions as he gears up for his first Test in 13 months.
"He is batting really well in the nets. He has had good seven-eight sessions. He came to Melbourne, started his practise straight away when our Test match got over," Rahane said making it clear that Rohit will open the innings.
The skipper indicated that the SCG track looks to be a good one for batting.
"See, as per history of Sydney, it is a very good wicket, very good wicket, so you just have to play some good cricket."
The SCG wicket aids spinners and that's why Rahane doesn't want his team to take chances while facing Nathan Lyon.
"Yes, we have good spinners but Nathan Lyon is their quality spinner, who has done well here, so we don't want to take anybody lightly," he said.
While signing off, Rahane with a note of caution reminded one and all that Melbourne is history now.
"As I said earlier, whatever happened in Melbourne it is history now. Australia is a very good team, especially when playing in Australia. They are a dangerous team and we respect that. We just want to be in the moment and start well tomorrow."