Ajinkya Rahane has thrown his weight behind Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, saying the team has full trust on what the duo has to offer and he backed them to come back stronger at the Hagley Oval. He has also added that playing the first session of the first day is the key to a good performance.
The New Zealand bowlers were at the top of their game, not letting a single Indian batsman settle down in Wellington but the same wasn’t the case for the Indian pacers. Barring Ishant Sharma, who made a comeback to the squad following an ankle injury, everyone flattered to deceive. Especially the failure of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami were the major differentiator but Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane played it down by saying a one-odd performance.
“Ishant obviously bowled pretty well. Shami and Bumrah, they have been bowling pretty well. It’s one game odd that they didn’t get any wickets. They are quality bowlers. In New Zealand, the batting and bowling areas are pretty different and we have to adapt to the conditions. I am sure they can adjust themselves as bowlers and come to the middle and bowl really. We don’t have any doubt about Shami and Bumrah - they are quality bowlers,” Rahane said in the pre-game press conference.
The Wellington wicket had just enough swing to trouble Indian batsmen and the wind made it further difficult for batsmen to judge the movement with a certain measure. On being asked if he has taken a look at the wicket in Christchurch, Rahane answered in negative but quoted Hanuma Vihari, who played a game for India A earlier this month, by saying the wicket will have good pace and bounce.
“I don’t generally take a look at the wicket before the game but generally what we are expecting is the same thing that we have got in Wellington. India A boys played here. Hanuma was telling us this wicket plays much better. There is good pace and bounce on this wicket. We have to wait and access the wicket and adapt accordingly,” the Mumbaikar added.
After the mauling that was handed to the Indian team in Wellington, the team will be worried to get hold of the remaining 60 Championship points in the second Test. Not only the points help the Indian team race ahead to the Lord’s showdown, but it will also help them move ahead of the chasing pack Australia as far as the standing at the top of the table concerned. Rahane believes trusting in the own ability will help the Indian team pack a punch.
“It is important to trust ourselves and not to think too much about what happened in the first match. It is all about going into the second Test with a fresh mind. We all know there are 60 Championship points at stake. If we win this Test match, we will be much ahead. It is all about trusting our ability and having faith in ourselves as a team,” Rahane said.
Cheteshwar Pujara was stoic as usual in Wellington but there seems slightly different this time as he was under pressure for the lack of runs. It showed in his batting as he was trying hard to find space but to no avail. The Indian vice-captain, who scored 46 and 29 in two innings, is of the opinion that New Zealand bowlers made it difficult to score runs but believes that Pujara will comeback from that phase.
“I thought personally, they bowled really well. Pujara was actually doing his bit and trying to score runs but Boult, Southee and all their bowlers, they didn’t give any loose deliveries. But that happens, every batsman goes through that phase. You have to come back stronger and trust your ability. Everyone plays differently - I play differently, Virat plays differently, and Pujara plays differently.
“They used their angle really well in Wellington - bowling wide of the crease. Their plans are very clear. As a batting and bowling unit, we have to trust our ability. Particularly as a batsman, we can’t doubt our shots, we get to play those shots. But I think playing out the first session of the first day if we bat first is the key,” the 31-year-old added.
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