IND v NZ 2021: Ajinkya Rahane says KL Rahul’s absence ‘big blow’ but not worried about the opening slot

Rahul got ruled out of the two-Test series due to a muscle strain on his left thigh.

Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal will open the innings against New Zealand | GettyTeam India on Wednesday (November 23) suffered a big blow as opening batter KL Rahul got ruled out of the two-Test series against New Zealand due to a muscle strain on his left thigh.

The hosts are already without the services of Virat Kohli (rested for the first Test) and Rohit Sharma (rested for the entire series) and Rahul’s injury certainly came as a setback.

However, India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane isn’t too worried about the opening combination though he acknowledged that Rahul’s injury is a big blow to the side.

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"See, it is a big blow. KL Rahul is not available for these two Test matches, he did really well in England. He was in good form and played really well. Obviously, we will miss him but we have guys who can fill that slot, guys who did well for us in the past. Not too worried about the opening slot," said Rahane while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference.

Notably, Suryakumar Yadav, who bats in the middle-order in First-Class cricket, has been named as Rahul’s replacement but Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill will now open the innings for India.

Speaking on the conversations with head coach Rahul Dravid, Rahane said: "Rahul bhai just told us to back ourselves and not think too much about it. Pujara and I know our game plan, it is about keeping it simple and backing our plans. If we get in, try to convert it into a big one."

"First of all, we will miss these three guys (Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma). But it is a good opportunity for all the youngsters to play, whoever gets an opportunity, they will look to play with freedom. This team is all about backing one another. Conditions here and conditions in South Africa will be different, first, we are thinking about this series," he added.

Ajinkya Rahane has been struggling for runs in the longest format lately. His Test average has dropped below 40 in recent times and he hardly put in a noteworthy performance during the England tour in August-September.

"I am not concerned about my form, I just think about contributing for the team, it is not always scoring a hundred. I always put the team first. I am very fortunate to lead the country, I am not bothered about what is going to happen. I am just focused on giving my best," Rahane said.

"When I am batting, I am there as a batter. The captaincy hat comes on when I am there in the field. It is all about what sort of game plan we have, what sort of strategy we have. I just like to keep it simple," he further remarked.

Talking about the game plan on spinning tracks, Rahane said: "When we play on spin-friendly wickets, it is a challenge for Indian batters also. As I said, if you are in as a batter, you need to capitalise and score big. As long as we win the series, we are just focusing on that."

(With ANI inputs)


By Salman Anjum - 24 Nov, 2021

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