|Virat Kohli during a practice session
Leeds: Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane joined the bandwagon of Indian players, who have attributed team director Ravi Shastri for bringing about a turnaround in team’s fortunes with his technical inputs in the ongoing ODI series after their dismal show in the Test matches.
Suresh Raina and Shikhar Dhawan have already paid glowing tributes to the former India captain for his contribution in helping the struggling team, and now Rahane is the latest batsman to state how Shastri’s tips helped him in converting a good start into a hundred in the last match.
“It hurt the team’s chances that I was not converting my starts… Ravi was very helpful during this phase. He asked me to play the way I was playing and just asked for a little extra focus between 40 and 50. He said, ‘Once you cross 50, your instinct will take over’,” Rahane said during a media conference.
“My aim was to focus that bit harder once I crossed 40, at least for those 10 next runs… After that I backed my instinct,” he added.
“I was batting well in the first two matches (in Cardiff and Nottingham), but got out on 45 and 41… That hurt me a lot because if you are batting so well in good conditions against this attack, getting a big score is good for the confidence and the team morale,” Rahane said.
Talking further about his maiden ODI hundred, Rahane said: “It was really special… After two 40s in the first two ODIs and the way I got out, I was really hurt. I couldn’t sleep after the Cardiff game because of the way I got out stumped. It was a really silly mistake of mine. I was really determined in the next match. Once I crossed the next 10 runs after 40, my natural game took over,” he said.
Rahane said that he was confident that a substantial knock was just round the corner. “I knew deep inside that a big innings was around the corner... When you are batting well, you don’t think too much. All I had to think about was how to focus that bit extra between 40 and 50, and how I prepare for that phase before the match. It was just a mind game.
“As I said, Ravi told me that the next 10 runs after I reach 40 will be important. When I reached the 40s, my whole aim was to concentrate harder. Once I crossed 50, I backed my natural game,” he added.
His opening partner Shikhar Dhawan, reeling under a string of low scores, was able to concentrate that much harder on his game while Rahane upped the scoring ante at the other end. “When we went out to bat, the ball seamed around for the first five-six overs. I told Shikhar, I will remain positive, and if I see a ball I can hit, I will go after it. In that over itself, I hit four boundaries, and the momentum switched towards us.
“Then he (Shikhar) asked me to continue playing that way. I backed my game and that allowed Shikhar some time to settle in. Once he got in, it was a joy to watch him bat from the non-striker’s end,” said the centurion about their 183-run opening stand.