Good use of feet against Herath was the key to success, says Ajinkya Rahane

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Good use of feet against Herath was the key to success, says Ajinkya Rahane

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SportsCafe Desk

08/05/2017

Ajinkya Rahane has revealed that Indian batsmen particularly made good use of their feet to tackle Sri Lankan veteran Rangana Herath in the first innings. The Indian vice-captain, who scored a sublime 132 runs in the first innings, has also rated this knock as one of his best against spinners.

One of the keys to India’s totals in the series - 600, 240 for 3 declared and now 622 for 9 declared - has been how brilliantly they have kept Sri Lankan veteran Rangana Herath at bay. The experienced left-arm spinner, whose average against India since fashioning the Galle win in 2015 is 53.61, did finish with 4 for 154 in the Indian first innings but needed 42 overs to do so. The particular reason behind this was that the Indian batsmen adopted good feet movement to tackle his left-arm spin and as Rahane admitted, it was the plan to keep Herath quiet.

"When we played last time here against Sri Lanka, especially after Galle Test match, we decided that using footwork against him was very important," Rahane said. "Here again in the first Test, Shikhar [Dhawan, scoring 190] batted really well, but throughout against him and their spinners, we wanted to use our footwork so we could get more runs on the back foot. Especially on this kind of wicket, it is very slow and dry, so we knew that if we use our footwork we will get more runs on the back foot.

"So when I went in to bat with Pujara we decided to change our momentum because Virat [Kohli] got out and we wanted to put pressure back on them, and that's what we did. So we knew using footwork we would get more runs on the front foot as well as the back foot."

Rahane’s ninth Test hundred yesterday was his first in 17 innings, since he made 188 in the third and final Test against New Zealand in Indore in October last year. Although the Indian vice-captain managed to get some good runs under his belt since then, the three-figure knock had proved elusive. Therefore, the significance of the Friday knock was even bigger for the Mumbaikar. 

“It was important but for me I was confident. Even throughout that time not getting a hundred for nine-ten Tests, I was confident about myself,” said Rahane. “I knew that if I get in, I will get a big one. It was all about thinking positive even throughout that period. Coming to Sri Lanka, I had batted well in West Indies (in the One-Day International series) as well, so I wanted to carry that form forward. I batted well in the first innings (in Galle during the first Test), so here I decided that if played positively, I would convert it into a big one.”

With the loss of Virat Kohli's wicket on the opening day, India found themselves three down for 133, but unfortunately for Sri Lanka, Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara were prepared for just that kind of situation. After the innings, Rahane revealed that he was confident that a big score was around the corner and rated the knock as one of his best knocks against the spinners.

"This was one of the best innings against spinners. My focus was to dominate. Going in to bat I knew a little bit how the wicket was behaving, how much bounce it had and whether it suits my game or not. The communication between Pujara and me was that we hardly played any maiden overs. So we put pressure back on them. As the match goes on, it will be a more difficult wicket to bat on," said Rahane.

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