Aside from the fact that he managed to cross the 150-barrier in Tests for the first time, the manner in which Ajinkya Rahane subjugated New Zealand's bouncer ploy would engulf him with immense satisfaction. The 28-year-old’s extensive partnership with skipper Virat Kohli propelled India towards a mammoth first-innings total at the Holkar Stadium in Indore.
The affable batsman, who was the hosts’ representative at the end of day press conference, opened up on his eventful performance in front of a packed weekend audience and how he dealt with the short-pitched stuff from the Kiwi bowlers.
Rahane enthused, “This innings was really special and the partnership too (with Kohli). We were 100 for 3 and from there getting 365 is really special. It was hot out there today. I was struggling yesterday against the short ball and Virat told me to take my time. Today, I wanted to dominate after getting the hundred. This partnership will stay in memory for a long time.”
“We were talking about a partnership yesterday but today it was hot and humid. We did not discuss too much about cricket. We wanted to have fun. The partnership was very crucial and we had decided to attack after getting our hundreds. We wanted their fast bowlers to bowl so that we could attack.”
For someone who had established himself as India’s most dependable Test batsman in the last few years or so, Rahane‘s stay at the crease did not exude his usual assuredness. He began rather shakily during the opening day but never shied away from playing his strokes. Despite resuming from his overnight score of 79, the Mumbaikar appeared to be a tad uncomfortable as the New Zealand seamers peppered him with a relentless bouncer salvo.
However, his determination and class helped him rebound after being hit on the helmet by a short delivery from Matt Henry. With the pitch keeping low, the ball did not climb enough for him to sway out of the way which meant that a blow had to be absorbed. Not the one to get affected by the proceedings, he chugged on and reached a career best 188.
Rahane admitted, “My approach was good. I struggled but it’s no shame to struggle. How you overcome it is important. Today I was really happy, they were bowling short balls as I knew they will give me runs. Yesterday, I struggled but today it was different. Once I got my hundred with Jeetan Patel and Santner came on to bowl, I wanted to play my normal cricket shots.”
Having declared at 557/5, India inserted the Kiwi openers for a tricky little period at the end of the day. Though the surface did not pose any significant threat to batsmen, they would be hoping that their spinners capitalize on the foot marks created by the opposition seamers.
He felt, “We knew spots were being created for our bowlers. It was important to keep the New Zealand team on the field for long as they would be tired. Tomorrow will be crucial. The wicket is slightly better for batting and we need to be patient. But, we expect the wicket to become slower.”