Ajinkya Rahane is no stranger to journalists questioning him about his form in press conferences. It was no different this time around as we build up to the third Test between England and India at the Headingley Stadium in Leeds.
Rahane has struggled for runs this year and his last Test century arrived at the MCG in December 2020. He has an average of 27.36 in 13 Tests since the start of 2020. The Indian Test vice-captain’s partner-in-crime Cheteshwar Pujara’s form has also come under the radar. The dependable number 3 batsman is still searching for a big knock to answer his critics.
However, in India’s second innings at Lord’s the duo came together and pulled the team out of trouble. India were down to 28 for 3 when Rahane joined Pujara at the crease and the England bowlers were enjoying a sweet time in the middle. However, the two batsmen swung the favour of the match back in India’s favour and gave the side a fighting chance with a 100-run stand for the fourth wicket.
“I am happy people are talking about me,” Rahane said when asked if he found it frustrating that he has been under the scanner for long. “I have always felt people talk about important people so I am not concerned about that. It’s all about the contributions for the team. Cheteshwar and I have been playing for a long time, we know how to handle pressure, we know how to handle certain situations, so we are not concerned about them. We are just focusing on the team, we just want to contribute for the team, and that’s what we are doing. Whatever we can’t control, we are not thinking about that.”
Does the criticism motivate? “Everything motivates,” Rahane said. “I mean playing for the country motivates me the most. I am not bothered about criticism. As I said, people criticise only important people. I am happy people are criticising me. I only focus on the controllables.”
Rahane was also satisfied by the fact that he and Pujara were able to contribute to India’s win. “It was really satisfying,” Rahane said. “I always believe in contributions to the team. For me, I always think about the team so that contribution of 61 or 62 was really important.”
Further elaborating on their thought process, he added that they were only thinking about hanging in there and that the communication between them was top-notch. Although Pujara batted really slow and got just 45 runs to show for his efforts, he took on 200 deliveries which was very important for the side’s cause.