Southampton: Things didn’t look too gloomy for India on Day III of the third Test, here, when Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma carried on with the proceedings confidently.
Of course, they were still trailing in excess of 300, but their partnership was gradually on its way to making the job a far more rigorous one for England bowlers than what they had actually thought, especially after reducing India to 136 for four.
Just when it seemed that the pair would make the hosts pay, Rohit came up with a loose shot that gifted England and the bowler, Moeen Ali, with a surprise wicket just before tea on Tuesday. And to make matters worse for the visitors, Rahane played a poorer shot to present the part-timer Moeen with his second wicket, early in the final session.
Such a shot, especially from a batsman like Rahane who has shown consistency so far in the longer version, was certainly something unexpected.
Moeen bowled a half-tracker, which should have been hit for a boundary at least if not a six. But the ball spooned in the air off Rahane’s bat, giving catching practice to the fielder at mid-on.
Little wonder Rahane was extremely disappointed on playing such a bad shot and failing to capitalise on the 54 runs he scored. “Yeah, I shouldn’t have played that shot… Felt really disappointed with the way I got out,” he admitted at the end of the third day’s play.
“But these things happen in cricket. I need to learn from these mistakes and ensure I don’t repeat them in the coming matches,” he added.
By his own admission, Rahane, apart from that poor shot, wasn’t too happy with his overall batting as well in this innings. “Initially, it was quite challenging because I felt they bowled really well. They bowled in the right areas making our job even tougher.
“As far as my batting is concerned, I wasn’t playing that well… Having said that, I had to stay there and play my game, like I did at Lord’s,” he said.
Refusing to believe that England’s big first innings score has put India under severe pressure, Rahane put up a brave face, saying: “We are not thinking about any score, nor are we watching the scoreboard. We just want to play one ball and one session at a time.”
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who so far has looked solid batting on 50, can still get India out of the woods even though they are 246 runs behind with just two wickets in hand. And Rahane is banking on his captain.
“Luckily, we have Dhonibhai at the crease, with (Mohammed) Shami giving him company. I’m sure we’ll get some runs and pull things back on Wednesday.
“Right now, we honestly aren’t thinking about batting last. We just want to do well in this innings and push on. We hope to fight back,” he signed off.