Leeds: He played a crucial knock during India’s second innings at the Lord’s Test against England. In fact, many say that it was his 61 that laid the foundation for India’s 151-run win against the hosts. However, there were others who criticised Ajinkya Rahane for his slow batting. However, India’s Test vice-captain dismissed criticism he and Cheteshwar Pujara faced for slow batting. Ajinkya Rahane said that they have played long enough to know what suits the team’s interest.
Rahane even laughed off the flak they faced on social media. He said that only ‘important people’ are talked about. Rahane (61 off 146 balls) and Pujara (45 off 206) took nearly 50 overs to add 100 runs in their partnership.
“I am happy that people are talking about me. I have always believed that people talk about important people, so I am not too concerned. It’s all about contribution for the team,” Rahane said ahead of the third Test, starting here Wednesday.
Rahane was asked if criticism motivates him. “Everything motivates me. Playing for the country motivates me. I am not bothered about criticism,” he asserted.
Rahane, in the context of the win, said that he was pleased with the way he played. “I always believed in contribution and that contribution was satisfying. You think about your own game but team performance is ultimate. You think about your methods, your good innings and what suits you. Ultimately however, whatever team need we focus on that,” the Indian vice-captain said.
Asked about his discussions with Pujara in the middle, Rahane said it was all about hanging in there. “The communication was all about short targets and build on it from there. Cheteshwar, we always talk that he plays slow, but that innings was really important for us. He batted for 200 balls. We back each other,” Rahane pointed out.
“Cheteshwar and I have been playing since long, we know how to handle pressure, how to handle certain situations. Whatever we can’t control, we do not think about that,” he said.
The Headingley will be an unknown territory for the current Indian team. None of the players have the experience of playing there. But for Rahane, that is not something which is worrying the side.
“When you are playing in the UK, your line and lengths are very important and that’s a challenge as a bowling unit. In 2014 when we came here, we were a young unit, the guys were still learning. Now we are experienced. All the bowlers have played all over the world, they know how to bowl in certain situations. We are focussed on bowling in the right areas,” Rahane said.
He said in England it’s about finding your rhythm as a batsman and as a bowler. “It’s not challenging really. When you get the rhythm, it’s about maintaining it and just being confident about yourself. I don’t see any difficulty playing at Headingley,” asserted Rahane. “It’s all in the mind, mentally we are strong. All the players are in good space,” he added.
The Lord’s Test saw verbal duels from both sides. Asked if mental disintegration of rival players is important, Rahane did not agree.
“We are not thinking anything like that. For us it is important to stay in the moment. Whatever happened in the last game we just have to forget and just take the positives. Every game is important due to the Championships (WTC),” he said.
Regarding team update, Rahane said Shardul Thakur is ‘fit and fine’.
“He (Thakur) is ready for selection. We just have to see what combination we are going with. About rotation, we got very good break after the last Test so all the fast bowlers are ready to play, which is a very good sign,” he concluded.