After what was a marvellous turnaround, Ajinka Rahane has stated that Rishabh Pant is well aware of his game plan and only needs to back his game from time to time. He also pointed out how it was a clear plan to go with five bowlers despite the Adelaide loss to pick up 20 wickets every time.
India opted to field the more specialised of the two wicketkeeper – Wriddhiman Saha in the first Test at Adelaide Oval. While the decision didn’t manifest a good result, it showed India their vulnerability with the bat, forcing them to pick Rishabh Pant in the playing XI. From the first Test, the southpaw was clever, brave and had the ability to adapt his game style to the situation, allowing India to field an extra bowler.
While he didn’t have a significant contribution at the G, his performance in Sydney and Gabba has left an indelible impact on the series, which India won 2-1, after turning around the shambles in Adelaide. Ajinkya Rahane, who led the side Down Under, stated that Pant is well aware of his game plan and only needs to back himself to keep performing consistently.
“I guess he (Pant) is very well aware of his game plan. The same strategy worked for him in Sydney, where he got 97. He was very disappointed there when he got out. He played a similar innings in Brisbane as well. Now, we’ve seen how he likes to play his cricket – the hundred which he got the last time in Australia, the one in England, they all bear the same style,” Rahane told TOI in an exclusive interview.
“His batting clearly spells out one thing – he takes his time initially and once he’s settled, he can singlehandedly take the game away from the opposition. I think that’s his template. He clearly needs to back his game,” he added.
Similarly, Rahane came in defence of Cheteshwar Pujara’s slow innings, adding that his knocks in the last three Tests were crucial to India’s chances of winning the Test series.
“People who understand Test cricket for what it is will never undermine his (Pujara) contribution. He knows his game really well and he’s never been perturbed about what people have to say. His presence in the team is priceless and it allows the rest of the squad to rally around him,” he added.
While Australia stuck with their four bowler approach, India had five bowlers at the Gabba, which shocked the fans. However, Rahane insisted that it was a well-thought-of plan, as picking up wickets was something that the management had noted.
“Sometimes, when you play with four bowlers, they generally tend to get tired. The fifth bowler gives that layer of cushion. They can keep coming back fresh. I have always believed in that, especially when playing outside of India it’s even more effective. The batsmen must take that extra responsibility,” he stated.
Just after the Adelaide loss, there were fingers pointed out at Rahane, for throwing away a start in the first innings. However, the Mumbaikar was left unfazed about the criticism and insisted that he always believed at belonging to the highest level.
“I have always believed I belong at the highest level. It was never a question of self-belief or doubt. What people say, or rather how people generally like to talk, has seldom bothered me. Same was the case this time – I wasn’t really bothered about what outsiders were saying (post Adelaide when he took over),” he concluded.