Indian batter Ajinkya Rahane threw his weight behind captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid ahead of the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia. The former vice-captain credited them for the team's consistency across formats and for keeping the team culture healthy.
India won 10, lost five, and drew three matches in the two-year cycle since losing the 2021 WTC final to New Zealand. Rahane, who scored 49 and 15 in that match, was dropped in January 2022 after a poor run of form.
The right-handed batter was called back after 17 months owing to his performances in IPL 2023 and domestic competitions.
"We've played very good cricket," he said in a video uploaded by the BCCI on Twitter. "Obviously, the last time we lost against New Zealand but after that the team played very positive cricket. Obviously, Rohit was leading the side really well, everyone chipped in and contributed really well. We are here playing the second consecutive final because of our consistency in all formats, not only in Test cricket. In ODIs and T20Is we've been really consistent as a team."
"Everyone has played well and scored really fast. I thought the culture in the team culture is really good. Rohit is handling the team really well and I am sure Rahul bhai is also handling the team really well. Everyone's enjoying each other's company and that obviously helps," Rahane added.
Rahane will likely slot straight into the No. 5 spot, his usual position which was taken by Shreyas Iyer until he went under the knife for a recurring back injury in April.
"I always like challenging conditions" - Ajinkya Rahane
Once known as India's overseas specialist, Rahane said he has always enjoyed playing in challenging bowling-friendly conditions but added that, currently, he just wants to "start fresh" and focus on what lies ahead.
"I always like challenging conditions," he said. "Sometimes when you come abroad, the situation is favorable to bowlers. For me I think the preparation matters a lot for me. But see I am coming back after 18-19 months, I don't want to think about my past now. Whatever has happened, good or bad, it's gone. I just want to start fresh, keep doing whatever I have done through out the season and try help the team and give my best whenever I get the opportunity."
Rahane, who has scored 729 runs in England, spoke about how to play in English conditions.
"Playing in England, you have to see the conditions well. Generally, you look at the wicket but in England, you have to look upstairs. If it's cloudy it's favorable to bowlers," Rahane added.
"If it's sunny, it gets better to bat on," he concluded. "You have to be in the moment, you are never in, that's what I believe in England, whether you bat 50-plus or 70-plus or just go inside. It's all about staying in the moment and playing to the conditions really well... Once you are in the middle, it's all about backing your instincts and game plan,"
The WTC final will kick off at 3:00 pm IST on June 7 at the Oval.