India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Monday dismissed criticism he and Cheteshwar Pujara faced from certain sections for batting with a low strike-rate during the Lord’s Test against England, saying they have played long enough to know what suits the team’s interest.
Rahane shrugged off the flak they faced on social media by saying 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 about that. It’s all about contribution for the team,” Rahane said ahead of the third Test, starting at Headingly, Leeds, on Wednesday.
Asked again if criticism motivates him, he said, “Everything motivates me. Playing for the country motivates me. I am not bothered about criticism.”
Pujara took 35 balls to get off the mark at Lord’s but his innings along with that of Rahane’s helped India’s cause, with the visitors winning the match by a whopping 151 runs.
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 the ultimate. You think about your methods, your good innings and what suits you but ultimately whatever team needs we focus on that.”
Asked about his discussion with Pujara in the middle, Rahane said it was all about hanging in there.
“The communication was all about short targets and build it on 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. 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 are not thinking about that,” he said.
Headingley will be an unknown territory for the current Indian team since 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. 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 ceratin situation. We focussed on bowling in right areas.”
Rahane 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. It’s all in the mind, mentally we are strong. All the players are in good space.”
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 last game we just have to forget and just take the positives. Every game is important due to the Championships,” he said.
Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah did remarkably well as they added 89 runs for an unbeaten ninth-wicket partnership when India were reduced to 209/8. That stand took the game away from England.
Asked if tail-enders’ batting affects the rival team’s openers, Rahane said
“It does affect the batsmen. They keep thinking about their batting when 7-8 wickets fall. You can see they started practicing shadow batting in slips, they start jumping (warming up), start doing foot work.
“This tail partnership mentally exhausts the batsmen. That was a good sign for us in the last matches. Credit to them. They themselves want to bat after bowling, it feels good to know they want to contribute with the bat as well.”
Regarding the team update, Rahane said Shardul Thakur is “fit and fine”.
“He 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 said.
Inputs from PTI