Mentor and coach of Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane and former India batsman Pravin Amre said that the Mumbai batsman did his homework when it came to the opposition before coming to Australia for the four-match Test series, which stands 1-1 after India won the MCG Test under Rahane’s captaincy.
Regular India captain Virat Kohli had revealed before the tour began that he will be available for only the first Test of the series before returning home on paternal leave. This meant, for the first time, Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will lead the Indian team in more than one Test match.
Amre, who helped out Rahane iron out the chinks in his batting, told Sports Today, it was not easy to take over the responsibility of leading India after the horror show in Adelaide wherein the visitors were bundled out for their lowest Test score of 36.
"I wanted to be in his shoes coming into that 2nd Test. The series before New Zealand was there. He didn't have a great run there. In Adelaide, in the first innings, he was involved in the Virat Kohli run-out. In the second innings, he was out for 0. There were butterflies in my stomach," Amre said.
Amre revealed that Rahane did his own study of the Australian batsmen before the tour commenced and planned his strategies accordingly. It was evident when he made life difficult for Aussies with smart field placements and wonderful tactical bowling changes.
Off-spinner Ashwin was brought into the action early on and rewarded the captain with the scalp of Smith for a duck in MCG Test’s first innings.
"It wasn't an easy task. Getting leadership after that, we might have different leaders in different situations but the guy answerable will always be the captain. So he handled that responsibility greatly because he did his own study.
"I think he must have done a really good study about Australian batting. Because Australia is always vulnerable against off-spinners. I felt the first day in the Boxing Day Test was critical. He used Ashwin so well. Nobody expected that on the first day, the first hour an off-spinner would come. I think that is instinctive. He kept the fielders at the right place, that credit goes to him," Amre said.
Amre also pointed out that India needs to keep that aggressive mentality going into the SCG Test, which begins January 7 onwards. He felt that the home side will come hard at the Indians in order to win the match and lead by 2-1 going into the final Test.
"They are going to come very hard at us after losing the Boxing Day Test. We will be prepared for that. We have nothing to lose. We went there to play 4 Test matches. We know Australia is always a tough tour but what is important is how we play.
The 2nd Test gave us the confidence we can play good cricket. If we produce good cricket, the result will be with us,” Amre said.
"As a cricketer, we have to keep it simple. Playing good cricket on that day and at that hour will help us. We didn't plan to win, we took care of sessions, we won every hour of the game. That is what we have to do in Sydney also, for us, Melbourne is now history,” he signed off.
(India Today inputs)