As India gear up to take on England in the high-voltage five-Test series, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has stressed on the significance of ‘patience’ for bowlers and batsmen in the unpredictable English weather. Edgbaston will host the first Test from Wednesday (August 1).
“There is always help for bowlers in England, but that doesn’t mean it is easier for the bowlers. They need to be patient and bowl in the good areas. They have to back their own skills instead of trying to take wickets from both ends” Rahane quoted as saying by PTI.
“If one bowler can play the support role well then it will lead to wickets. To bowl patiently and on spot is crucial to success,” he added.
Earlier this year, Indian bowlers had managed to scalp all the 60 Proteas wickets in a three-match Test series. Citing the example of South Africa Tests, Rahane backed the bowlers to replicate the same showing on English soil.
“It is a great opportunity for the bowlers to prove that we can take 20 wickets in a Test match consistently, like we had done in South Africa. Nobody expected us to take 20 wickets in all three Test matches,” Rahane remarked.
“At the same time they should not put extra pressure on themselves and they should just look to enjoy the moment. They need to back themselves and believe that our bowling unit is the best in the world,” he further asserted.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who averages 26.63 with the ball in Test matches in England, was left out from the 18-member squad for the first three Tests after he aggravated his back problem by playing in the third ODI at Leeds. Kumar’s injury is a huge blow for India given that Jasprit Bumrah is still to recover from his thumb injury. Although Bumrah has been picked in the Test squad, he will only be considered for selection from the second Test onwards.
With both Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah being ruled out of the first Test, the trio of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami will have to carry the additional responsibility. Moreover, rookie Shardul Thakur and all-rounder Hardik Pandya are also there in the squad.
“Our pace bowlers are very experienced. Mohammed Shami and Umesh were here in 2014 as well. They’ve been doing so well for us, not only in India but outside as well. In South Africa, we got all 60 wickets (during the Tests) and our fast bowlers bowled really well,” Ajinkya opined.
“It is a challenge to bowl in England but I am really confident about them – not only Umesh and Shami but also Ishant, who came here and played some county games. We have Jasprit Bumrah as well. We have an attack that can disrupt opponents. But yes, it will be a challenge for them to bowl patiently and bowl in the right areas for a long period of time,” he explained.
India had an intense net session at Edgbaston on Tuesday (July 30) after their extra practice session on Monday (July 29) was washed out due to the persistent downpour. Rahane said that they have had sufficient practice and the rest will come down to mindset.
“In England, patience is the key. It depends on the weather — if it’s sunny it’s good to bat, but if it gets cloudy then definitely it’s good for the bowlers. As a batting unit, I feel that challenging yourself and backing your own game rather than copying someone else is important. If you’re set, try to play a big innings. If the weather changes, it’s important for the batsman to hold back, respect the bowler and respect the conditions. If you’re set here, you should really make it count,” he elaborated.
Rahane has played a massive role in India’s historic victory at Lord’s in 2014. The Mumbaikar has scored a majestic 103 in the first innings of Lord’s Test on a green mamba and finished the series with 299 runs in 10 innings with two other half-centuries.
“We were here in 2014 and we know what it takes to play good cricket here. For us, we want to play good cricket rather than think about the result. If you think about the result you put pressure on yourself,” Rahane said.
“This time we just want to express ourselves. Guys are in good shape. Personally I enjoy those challenges of playing abroad. You know here in England the ball does a bit, in Australia there’s bounce, and again in New Zealand the ball does a bit. My mind is in the present, one match at a time. I’m really looking forward to this series,” he further added.
India have a few selection headaches before the first Test as Kuldeep Yadav made a strong case for himself with his awe-inspiring performances in the limited-overs leg of the tour.
“I’m not sure about the combination. He is definitely an x-factor in our team. He bowled really well in the ODIs and T20Is. We will have to see how the wickets will be like tomorrow and day after,” Rahane said while talking about Kuldeep.
“We don’t have to forget R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. They’ve been doing really well for us. Ashwin especially with his batting and bowling, he’s been doing really well,” he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)