India's stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane has stated that it's a proud moment for him to lead India in Tests, however, the team will surely miss Virat Kohli. He also attributed the forgettable 36 to just one bad hour of play and added that he wants his team to back themselves in the MCG Test.
Virat Kohli will no longer be part of the Test series against Australia as he departed for India after the Adelaide Test. It was always going to happen as Kohli had taken the paternity leave even before the whole tour started. His absence also leaves a gaping hole in India's middle-order and even in the first Test, he was one of India's best batters.
Very much like 2017 home series against Australia, Rahane is set to captain India. He will lead the tourists in the last three Tests starting from the Boxing Day Test at MCG. Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Ajinkya Rahane stated that it's a proud moment for him to lead India though he added the team will miss the services of their regular skipper and gun batsman Virat Kohli.
"It's a proud moment for me to lead India in Tests but I don't want to take any pressure. What I want is to back my team and the focus isn't on me but how we do well as a team. We definitely miss Virat (Kohli), obviously when you have him it's a great thing so we will definitely miss him as he is not there," Rahane stated in the press conference ahead of the MCG Test that kick starts from December 26.
Virat Kohli might have left the team but Rahane revealed he gave an encouraging parting message to the side and told them the importance of staying positive no matter what may come.
"Virat spoke to all of us about being positive, playing to our strengths and play as a unit like we have done over the years. We need to enjoy each other's success, play for each other and keep backing our strengths."
The role of openers is paramount in Test cricket as you never want to expose your middle-order to the brand new cherry. It's something that India failed to do as the rest of the order was exposed after Shaw got out early in both the innings of the first Test. Talking on opener's role, Rahane asserted that their role is crucial and he doesn't want to put any pressure on them.
"See the opener's role not only in Australia but everywhere is really crucial and I don't want to put any pressure on our openers. Just want to give them freedom so that they can play their game. Having said that, openers' role is very crucial when you get that partnership going it becomes really easy for the coming batsmen."
India have fond memories of MCG as last time they were able to win the Boxing Day Test while in 2014/15 the game had ended in a draw. It was a match where both Rahane and Kohli had made centuries. But Rahane maintained that the team need to start well and remain in present than thinking much about the past.
"Our record at MCG is really good. We just need to start well tomorrow, it's important and play to our strengths. Our record is good here be it in 2014 or 2017/18 but we just need to stay in the moment," he said.
With Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami out, it puts a lot of pressure on India's spearhead Jasprit Bumrah. The Indian skipper lauded both Bumrah and Umesh and highlighted the importance of bowling in partnerships. He also added that their preparation for the next Test is going well.
"Bumrah is a quality bowler and he has been doing well. Umesh has also done well over the years. But it's all about bowling in partnerships and bowling towards the plan as a team. Last couple of net sessions have been very good. The chat has been to back our plans and team in training sessions."
The Mumbaikar also attributed the Adelaide Test to just one bad hour of play and emphasized on the need to keep backing their strengths.
"Nothing really special was talked after Adelaide. We just need to keep backing our basics strengths. We just had one bad hour. It's all about staying positive and batting in partnerships and our focus is just on that," Rahane said.