Check my scores in last 15 Tests, won't give you masala on captaincy: Rahane bats on front-foot

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safari
12 Feb 2021 | 10:08 AM
authorPTI

Check my scores in last 15 Tests, won't give you masala on captaincy: Rahane bats on front-foot

India lost the first Test by 227 runs on a deck that didn't have anything for bowlers while the fresh pitch, with a darker and drier look, promises to be a spinners' paradise in the game starting Saturday

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Ajinkya Rahane had a fair idea that a question about his indifferent form would pop up and he was ready to meet the challenging delivery head on with a never-seen-before aggression.

Skipper Virat Kohli, after the 227-run defeat to England in the opening Test, had vehemently defended Rahane, who hasn't scored too many runs before or after the Melbourne Test against Australia where his hundred enabled India to draw the series level.

The form came up again on the eve of the second Test against England and the man in question was ready to tackle the issue head on.

"See we are playing at home after two years. Our last home series, was against South Africa. If you take (the scores of that series) out, you will find something over there," Rahane answered in third person with a deadpan expression referring to his scores of 59 and 115 against the Proteas in that 2019 series.

"It's all about the team and not the individual and my focus is how can I contribute for the team. If you take out the last 10-15 Test matches, you will see some runs over there.

"I don't need to think about what's happening on the outside," the vice-captain, who has scored around 1000 runs in his last 15 long form game, said.

It was a different Rahane, someone who was not ready to take a backward step when faced with difficult questions.

When a scribe asked if the drooping shoulders and negative body language in the first Test were due to a change in captaincy, he was far from amused.

"There are moments when you don't have that energy but that doesn't mean that it has happened because of a change in captaincy. As I have said earlier, Virat is our captain and will remain our captain.

"If you are trying to dig in and fine some 'masala' (controversy), unfortunately, you will not get it. Look, body language can be a bit down at times and the wicket was such in the first 2 days, it could be because of that. There could be many reasons."

The answer was pretty similar to what Kohli gave when asked about Rahane's form and the captaincy factor.

Ditto when asked about a change in approach from Cheteshwar Pujara after his defensive batting in Australia, which earned a lot of praise from pundits.

"See no one questioned his batting approach in the team and that's what matters. What people talk outside doesn't matter to us," Kohli's deputy whacked the delivery straight into the stands.

"The way he played in Australia and the way he played now, it's really important for us. He has played 80 odd Test matches and knows his game really well, no one questioned his ability," he said.

The Mumbai batsman also defended his teammates Rohit Sharma's underwhelming form, terming it a matter of time before he sets up a win for the hosts.

"Rohit is an important member of our team and it's not about scoring 100 or 150 but in Australia, he batted well and made those important contributions, 2 (poor) innings don't make anyone a bad player.

"Rohit is a player who has in past, won us matches. You know when he gets set, he can win you matches. You have to have faith in that particular player," he added.

He knows a thing or two about comebacks after a dismal show. After all, Adelaide's 36 all out to a chase of 328 in Brisbane cannot be easily forgotten.

The key factor, according to Rahane, is not over-analysing a defeat which can lead to a negative mind-set.

Asked what exactly do players mean when they say that "we have to regroup", he replied, "Regrouping is addressing concerns but not tending to over-think.

"At times when you lose, you tend to delve deep into the reasons and that brings in negativity and it's not your fault but you still start blaming yourself.

"What happened in the last Test, we need to accept...We need to move on and the endeavour should be on how to do well in all departments of the game."

I am sure pitch will turn from day 1: Rahane

India vice-captain Rahane expects the Chepauk pitch to offer serious turn from the very first day of the second Test against England when his team would bid to level the four-match series and remain in contention for the World Test Championship final.

India lost the first Test by 227 runs on a deck that didn't have anything for bowlers while the fresh pitch, with a darker and drier look, promises to be a spinners' paradise in the game starting Saturday.

"Yeah, it looks completely different. I am sure it will turn from day 1 but again as I have said before the first Test match, you have to wait and see how it plays in the first session and take it from there on," Rahane said at the pre match virtual conference on Friday.

"...but yeah we have to forget what happened in the first Test. We know these conditions really well and we have to put our best foot forward tomorrow and yeah that's it," Virat Kohli's deputy added.

Despite hinting that left-arm spin bowling all-rounder Axar Patel is available for selection, Rahane didn't divulge the playing XI.

"Everyone is in the mix and good thing is Axar is fit and I am not going to tell you who is going to play tomorrow. See all our spinners are really good and given a chance they will all do really well," Rahane kept cards close to his chest.

He also defended the spinners' performance in the first Test and said that their first innings form wasn't something that the team was overtly concerned about.

"If you see the first two days, there was nothing for our spinners and fast bowlers. Considering we bowled 190 overs and they scored 578 runs, I thought we really bowled well.

"There was nothing on that wicket. If you see second innings, all our spinners, especially Ashwin bowled really well. We are not too concerned about how our spinners are bowling and I am sure we will come out with a plan."

About the 27 no balls and 31 dropped catches since the epic Australia series win, Rahane said that the issues remain a work in progress.

"We are really working hard on what we can control. In India, close-in catches are really important and sometimes these things happen. No one does it intentionally, it's all about how confident you are. Close in catches are really important."

"About, no balls, yes we all were disappointed about the no balls and they are working really hard." 

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India vs EnglandEngland tour of India, 2021IndiaEnglandAjinkya Rahane

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