Wednesday, November 15, 2017

IND vs SL: Ajinkya Rahane feels series 'important before going to South Africa'

India's 9-0 clean sweep of Sri Lanka across all three formats recently, hangs heavy before the launch of another nine-match engagement between the two teams. With the first of three Tests beginning here tomorrow, both teams will want to put the past behind them as quickly as possible. The visitors have their obvious reasons, but India too have a great deal at stake. "For us, every match and series is important before going to South Africa, but we are focussing on this series right now," Ajinkya Rahane said before nets at the Eden Gardens yesterday, providing a peep into 'preparations' for the big tour even as he spelt out the 'one match at time' philosophy that teams have come to embrace these days.

Virat Kohli & Co. sit atop the ICC Test rankings and they will want to keep it that way before facing the No. 2 team in their backyard. The tour to South Africa comes immediately after the Lanka series, and Team India will want to carry the momentum from here. "They have been preparing really well and we don't want to be taking them lightly. We just want to think about our game rather than thinking about their combination or their strengths," Rahane added, almost as if warning against complacency.

Indian captain Virat Kohli (right) and Shikhar Dhawan during a fielding practice session at Eden Gardens in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI
Indian captain Virat Kohli (right) and Shikhar Dhawan during a fielding practice session at Eden Gardens in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI

Adapting to change
The last Test India played was against Lanka three months ago, and the space between has been filled with the frenetic change in formats. "We know how to adjust to different formats. We are all professionals, so that won't be a problem," he responded when asked whether the longer version would require players to dig deep. "The first Test is important when it comes to momentum and we are well prepared." Having regained some confidence with back-to-back Test victories over Pakistan in the UAE, the Lankans are putting a great deal into their preparations. Arriving an hour before schedule, the visitors introduced an extra dose of spin at the nets with six local bowlers being employed.

Team India's Ajinkya Rahane
Team India's Ajinkya Rahane

The pitch being prepared has a generous tinge of green and it will be interesting to find out if India actually opt for pace and bounce to peg back the Lankans. There was a lengthy pitch-side discussion involving head coach Ravi Shastri, Kohli, bowling coach Bharat Arun and Ravindra Jadeja before the skipper had a chat with curator Sujan Mukherjee.

'No idea of the pitch'
The curator later accompanied former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, now CAB president, to the pitch. "Let's wait for the match to start. I haven't seen the wicket, so I'm not sure," Rahane quipped when asked to throw light on the pitch. The Lankans are certainly being kept guessing.

Also view photos: Bowled And Beautiful: Cricketers And Their Wives And Girlfriends

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