When India announced their playing XI for the first two Tests against South Africa, there was one notable omission in the list. Ajinkya Rahane, who has scored runs at an average of 69.66 in his last South Africa tour back in 2013-14, was left out and it didn’t take long for cricket experts and fans to question the move.
Rohit, who has done reasonably well across all the three formats in India’s last home season, was preferred over Rahane in the playing XI in Cape Town and Centurion. Sharma though couldn’t quite prove his worth against the fiery Proteas pace attack as he managed to aggregate only 78 runs in 4 innings at a miserable average of 19.50.
Nearly one and a half months later, Rahane has opened up about India’s chances in the first two Tests that the lost by 72 runs and 135 runs respectively. The 29-year-old reckons that a good partnership could have given the visitors their first Test series victory on South African soil.
“What I can say as vice-captain is yes, we played really well, we could have won the Test series. Our bowlers were excellent in those conditions and taking 60 wickets is no mean feat. We must also not forget that South Africa played better cricket, especially in Tests. They didn’t let our batsmen settle down. If we had a good partnership in the first two Tests, we could have won the series. Had we won in all three formats, our tour would have been complete,” Rahane said in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.
After losing the first two Tests in Cape Town and Centurion, Virat Kohli’s troops bounced back emphatically to register a historic 63-run victory in the third and final Test at Wanderers. From then on, India’s winning juggernaut didn’t stop as they secured both the limited-overs series with utmost ease.
While the Men in Blue clinched the six-match one-day international series with a stunning margin of 5-1, they won the three-match ODI series 2-1.
When asked if he is satisfied to be a part of the playing XI that won the Test match in South Africa, Rahane said: “When I got to know I was going to play, the only thing I was thinking was how to contribute. I wasn’t thinking about myself. It was an opportunity for me to become a hero. I was sitting alone in the dressing room, visualising about my batting and shot selection. That really helped me. It motivated me to do well because I was really hungry and determined. I was waiting for my opportunity. I was very sure about my plan, my ability, and I was really confident.”
Ajinkya didn’t have the best of time in India’s last home season. The right-hander had amassed only 17 runs at a miserable average of 3.40 in 3 Tests against Sri Lanka in November.
Talking about the anxiety before the third Test, Rahane said: “Everyone gets nervous. It shows you care about the game. It’s good to be nervous. If you are not nervous, you are careless. Winning is everything for me. It’s not all about getting big hundreds. That 48 was as good as hundred or 150.”
Rahane concluded by talking about his match turning partnership with skipper Virat Kohli at Wanderers.
“We enjoy each other’s company on the field, whether we bat together or stand in the slips. We discuss a lot of cricket, talk about our plans and goals during partnerships. We were enjoying ourselves during that partnership. We were trying to be positive from the word go. Surviving was not an option there. Our mindset changed during that partnership. After that, Bhuvi and I got some runs. That changed the game and got the momentum going for us,” he signed-off.