India took a 1-0 lead in the five-match One-Day International series against Windies with a thumping 105-runs win in the second match. And while the performance from the Men in Blue was close to perfection, the biggest takeaway will probably be Ajinkya Rahane’s magnificent century.
One of India’s batting mainstays in Test cricket, Rahane is yet to prove his mettle in the coloured jersey. But fortunately for him, he has been given ample chances to cement his spot in the playing eleven. The last time he opened for the Men in Blue, he managed only 143 runs in five outings against New Zealand and could not get a single game under his belt in the recently-concluded Champions Trophy.
But with Rohit Sharma rested for the ongoing series, the right-handed batsman has been asked to open the innings and he has justified the faith shown in him with two good knocks. He started the series with a 62-run knock and made even a bigger impact in the second match on Sunday (June 25) by scoring 103.
Another big positive was Kuldeep Yadav’s performance with the ball. In his very first outing in the 50-over format, the left-arm unorthodox spinner spun a web around the home side, picking up the wickets of top-scorer Shai Hope, Evin Lewis and Jason Holder to finish with a three-wicket haul.
Captain Virat Kohli was delighted with the team’s performance and heaped lavish praise on Rahane and Kuldeep for their contribution in the win. Speaking during the post-match conference, the India skipper spoke on various topics ranging from Rahane, team’s performance, preparation for the next World Cup and much more.
On whether Ajinkya Rahane is in the mix of things in ODIs:
“Jinks has been part of the one-day setup for a while. He is someone we all felt had great potential at the top of the order but when Rohit and Shikhar as an opening partnership play well in one-day cricket, then that really becomes a powerful package for us.
But having said that, Jinks has always been there for us as the third opener, having gotten the opportunity in this series, so far he has batted well in both the games. Today also the way he paced his innings was really really nice, he was going run-a-ball, never fell behind the rate. The shorter format is something that we all know and he also knows that he wants to do really well because he is such an established Test player and is so solid there, he wants to make it count in these formats as well.”
On Rahane’s struggle in limited-overs cricket and his role in the team:
“Sometimes, as a batsman, you are undertaking too much pressure in those situations like some people do in Test cricket. I feel in this series, he has really started taking it as a cricket game, not necessarily a change of clothing or anything like that, I think he is enjoying his game much more in this series is what I see. It can only go up from here and improve his short-format cricket, which we are more certain of.
If he keeps performing like this, he is someone who has done the middle order job as well in the past, so he can very well be the floater for you in the middle order and he is someone that might allow you to take an extra bowler, in a big tournament like the 2019 World Cup, a big series before that as well. It all depends on who are the guys who can do two jobs in the team, there are very few guys who can open and play in the middle order and I think Ajinkya is one of them. In the future, we see him providing more balance to us as a side in terms of taking an extra bowling option maybe.”
On Kuldeep Yadav:
“It becomes difficult when he bowls cross seamed deliveries turning both ways. Usually, bowlers bowl seam-up deliveries turning in and cross seam bowling the googly but he can do both with the cross seam so that becomes more difficult to pick from the wrist and when batsmen try to attack, he can slow his pace down and beat the batsman halfway into the pitch.
So he is quite amazing with what he does with the ball and I’ve faced him in the IPL as well, it’s not easy to get away when he is bowling, especially if the wicket is dry like it was today, he becomes even more lethal. So credit to him for putting in a performance like that in his first bowling performance.”
On 2019 World Cup plans:
“When you talk about the 2019 World Cup, you got 15 players here, then you got a pool of 10-12 players ready back home, who will probably be tested in the next couple of years. See how they react in pressure situations, who is able to make most impact in the middle overs, especially for us with the ball so those are the things we need to identify as a side, something that we need to improve on, going ahead and figure out who the best guys are at the moment who are performing well under pressure.”
On top-order batsmen’s cautious approach early on:
“All depends on say guys like Hardik and Kedar, they haven’t got much game time in the recent past, so the more games they get under their belt and more experience they get, they are consistently striking every game, then as a middle order group, you can start going early. When you haven’t got too many pressure games behind you, then you know that these are the two guys who are the strongest at that particular position. It’s difficult to start going early because if you lose wickets early, the equation becomes a little difficult.
From the Champions Trophy, you can say that we can look back and improve on those things but here with a bit of rain around, you are always careful of losing extra couple of wickets but yeah, from the Champions Trophy, we have taken that learning forward, something that with more experience in the lower middle order, we will start implementing that as well in the future.”