India’s one of the most talented and current in-form batsmen Ajinkya Rahane admits that patience and determination helped him to hit a century as a first batsman in this Test series against South Africa.
Rahane made a superb knock of 127 runs at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on Friday, where the bowlers dominated for most of time.
Rahane shared about his mindset at the time of his batting. He said, “When I was batting, I just wanted to stay blank and play one ball at a time. I wanted to build partnerships with the other batsmen. It feels really special that I batted with (Ravichandran) Ashwin while getting my hundred.”
Rahane revealed the reason of his success. He spoke out, “There was nothing wrong technically or mentally. I was just playing shots close to my body. I was slightly hurrying as I was trying to play my shots straightaway. Here I just wanted to take my own time and play as close to my body as possible, wait for loose balls. Patience was key over here. Determination and patience helped me in this innings.”
Rahane had made his Test debut at this ground in March 2013 against Australia. So, this century is very special for him.
He said, “Yes, it is a very special hundred for me because I made my debut in Delhi against Australia. So I had a few things in my mind. Those memories against Australia (were revisited). I was pretty determined to bat well as I knew that I was batting really well in the series.”
The right-hand Mumbai batsman added, “But important was to spend time in the middle and later on look for big innings. So really happy for the hundred but especially for the partnerships, which I got with Ashwin, Virat and Jadeja. That took us to 330 plus.”
Rahane credited to his bowlers for fine performances and told that they didn’t think about the pitches. He stated, “We were not thinking about that. In the dressing room, we are not talking about the wickets. It is important for us to win the match and win the series. There is nothing wrong with the wicket. You should give credit to our bowlers especially Umesh and Ishant.”
Rahane added, “That three-over spells each spell from both of them was pretty crucial. Because in the dressing room, we never think about how good or bad the wicket is. It’s a team effort that we played really well.”
Rahane had mixed feelings about the Kotla pitch as he said, “Shot-making was not easy but once you are set, you decide that you are not going to get out. It was difficult for bowlers to get the batsman out. We all saw that when our bowlers bowled (showed) good discipline and patience.
“For bowlers, it was important to show patience and bowl in right areas but as a batsman, I feel spending time in the middle, taking my time, playing my normal cricket rather than play attacking shots was important. It was not easy for shot making but not difficult as well.”
Rahane praised Ashwin’s effort and the contribution from the lower order. He said, “That’s a good sign when you know that your lower-order is batting really well. I think that partnership (Umesh-Ashwin) was crucial. If guys at 8, 9, 10, 11 can contribute, then opposition’s morale goes down. Batting with Ashwin was really important. Communication was just to play normal cricket.
“Ashwin can bat as he has got 2 Test hundreds. We thought this morning that their bowlers Morne and Abbott will come hard at us. So we took our time initially. Ashwin was timing really well. Even I took my time and then decided to play my shots as well.”
Asked if Dhoni’s recent comments, which was about his abilities shorter format but he handled it effectively, had any effect on him, Rahane replied: “Not at all. My job is to play cricket and improve day by day. I never think about what others are saying, but I take their opinion and look to improve and move forward.”
Rahane revealed his strategy, “I was batting on 89 (overnight) and I knew that they will keep fielders at boundary and attack Ashwin. Dropping catches happen in cricket and they were giving their 100 percent in the first one hour. They bowled their hearts out.”
“Ashwin was pretty good at the other end. I think 300 plus will be a good total on this track. Once we crossed 260, we wanted to bat longer and bat deep. Just take the game away from them.”
It is Rahane’s first hundred in India. He said, “If the century helps the team, then it is a special effort irrespective of the conditions India or abroad. This is my first hundred in India and obviously it is special.”
He also spoke out about their decision for not enforcing the follow-on to the Protease. He said, “It was team management’s decision of not enforcing the follow-on. Whatever captain decides, all the 15 members back his decisions. It’s a team decision and a good one (at that).”
He is not just one of India’s dependable batsman, he is also India’s best slip fielder. Yet he said that he always comfortable to field at any position. He said, “From the start, wherever the captain has told me to field, whether it is a silly to point, forward short leg, slip or gully, I have always given him a positive response. My mindset is to obey the captain. In Sri Lanka, Virat told me that I will field in the slips. I gave him a positive response.”
“Then I told Sridhar (fielding coach) that I want 50 to 100 catches per day so that I can properly fulfill the responsibilities entrusted by team management. I took a lot of catches, prepared well, showed the captain that he can show confidence in me.”
“In slip fielding, preparation is very important. You can’t concentrate for six hours. One needs to switch on and switch off. Knowing when to concentrate is also important.”