‘Challenging’ Wanderers pitch boosted Ajinkya Rahane’s motivation
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‘Challenging’ Wanderers pitch boosted Ajinkya Rahane’s motivation

Ajinkya Rahane played a gutsy knock of 48 to take India to a commanding position in the third Test against South Africa at Wanderers.

cricket Updated: Jan 27, 2018 10:07 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
Ajinkya Rahane,India vs South Africa,South Africa vs India
India's batsman Ajinkya Rahane played brilliantly on the third day of the third Test against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.(AP)

Forced to sit out of the first two Tests, the onus was on Ajinkya Rahane to drive India to a winning position in a Test they have to win or draw to avoid an unprecedented whitewash in South Africa. He passed the test with flying honours, scoring 48 on possibly the most difficult pitch he has played and stringing two important partnerships with captain Virat Kohli and then with tail-ender Bhuvneshwar Kumar. (India vs South Africa Day 3 highlights | Scorecard)

“It’s definitely a very important innings for me. I was very motivated before this match. When you get an opportunity and then you find a pitch like this, your motivation level rises. It was important for me to stay relaxed and not take any pressure when I went out to bat,” said Rahane.

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“And the situation was such, we were 100 for 4. I was visualising that if we can score 70-80 runs also from here, then it will be very difficult for them. And then to get 240 runs eventually was very good. But personally, I was really determined and motivated to do well. From all the pitches I’ve played on, this was the most challenging.”

Asked how he came out with such a positive intent when batsmen were constantly being pinged by South Africa pacers, Rahane said, “I was visualising when I was sitting in the dressing room. I was thinking what my approach was going to be because only survival was not the point on this wicket because we wanted to score runs and we were thinking if we get 170-180 that will be a good total on this track. I was actually thinking from last night what are the important shots on this wicket and if I get aggressive in my batting I wanted to put South Africa on the backfoot because they were dominating with their bowling. I was just thinking about going aggressive, if the ball is there to be hit, I will play my shot and that’s it.”

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Aggressive he was. Not backing out of cover drives and slapping Morne Morkel through extra cover was his way of pointing out how India may have bungled big time by omitting him from the first two Tests. And in his own quiet way, Rahane said his demeanour shouldn’t be mistaken for his approach towards the game.

“My behaviour off the field is different from my batting because opponents sometimes see how you aggressive you are off the field. I try and bat according to the situation. This was an opportunity for me, because I thought if I perform here I will be a hero. So my thinking was completely positive and even 30-40 runs would be very good on this wicket,” he said.

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“My game, even in Dharamsala like I have played against Australia in final Test, the intention was to dominate the South African bowling. Vijay and Virat batted out the difficult part so it was easier for me. So my focus was that whenever the ball is there to be hit, I will score some runs. I wasn’t thinking at all about just survival but was thinking about scoring runs as well. I was only thinking about what shot I should play and how I should play it. I was concentrating on my strong points to score as many runs as possible.”

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 08:51 IST