India vs New Zealand: After Wellington debacle, Ajinkya Rahane reveals improved mantra for Christchurch Test, speaks about conditions
The Indian batting order was blown away by relentless New Zealand bowling in the first Test and hence, the side now wants to tackle the Kiwi threat with more intent and planning in the second Test in Christchurch. Team India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane believes the Indian batsmen will have to come with specific strategies to counter the the New Zealand pace battery.
“I am not saying (we have to be) more aggressive but having that intent and clear mindset will help us,” Rahane told reporters on Thursday.
In the second innings in Wellington, the New Zealand pacers resorted to short-pitched stuff on a surface which had flattened out and this became an extremely productive tactic for the hosts.
“I think they used that angle really well in Wellington. Bowling wide of the crease or from the centre, they changed angles while bowling the short balls. I think their plan was completely clear.
“As a batsman, if you going to think about a particular shot, then you need to back yourself and play that shot. You cannot doubt yourself. We need to forget what happened in Wellington,” the Indian vice-captain added.
The conditions on offer
Rahane also revealed that the Indian batting group had a concerted session in the nets where they spent time dealing with bouncers and combating awkward angles. However, he also went on to add that despite all the practice the batsmen will have to back their skills when the pressure is amped out in the middle.
“That’s what I said: try and learn what mistakes we did as a group, what can we learn. I think we have to practice those angles. We had a practice session and we have one more tomorrow. And you have to practice that and trust your ability in the middle,” Rahane said in a reassuring tone.
While net sessions are important, it’s the instincts in match situations that counts, he said.
“But to change or adjust those angles there are times you need to be instinctive while you are batting. It can mean standing on off-stump, or standing outside the crease or staying deep inside the crease – like if it is a pitch for cut shot then you can stand deeper in the crease. This is the mental side of the game,” Rahane said.
“For me, as a batsman it is important you show your intent to the bowler, if you stand in one spot then the bowler doesn’t need to change anything. These are small things we have been working on in practice and how to use the crease and the angles. Doesn’t matter how much you practice you must trust or have the belief to be able to do it in the middle,” he added.
Two days before the Test, the surface at the Hagley Oval could not be separated from the outfield but Rahane was willing to trust the verdict of Hanuma Vihari, who has already played in this ground with India A.
“I generally don’t see the wicket before the game. But see whatever we expected, we got in Wellington, we expect the same here. The India A guys played here and Hanuma (Vihari) was telling us that the wicket was much better.
“There is good pace and bounce on this wicket. We will have to see and assess the conditions very quickly on the first day of the game and play accordingly.”