WTC Final: "Sometimes funny things happen and it's all about staying in the moment" - Ajinkya Rahane not ruling out an India victory

Ajinkya Rahane (L) and Chestehwar Pujara (R) walking on the outfield before start of play
Ajinkya Rahane (L) and Chestehwar Pujara (R) walking on the outfield before start of play

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has still not given up on a result, saying that a good passage of play can swing the World Test Championship (WTC) final in his team's favour. New Zealand lost three wickets in the first session of Day 5 and trail by 82 runs with 5 wickets in hand at the time of writing.

The match is evenly poised at the moment, but with a little less than two days left – including the reserve day – the marquee clash looks headed towards a stalemate. Ajinkya Rahane, however, is not bothered about the final outcome and said India will take it one session at a time.

“Still a long way to go in this game, we have seen funny things can happen in Test cricket...If we can pick up two crucial wickets. Being in the present, playing session by session, you know in England if you go too far ahead of the game, sometimes funny things happen and so it’s all about staying in the moment and backing yourselves,” Ajinkya Rahane told broadcaster Star Sports before the start of play on Tuesday.

India’s three-pronged pace attack comprising of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah has come under fire for being unable to replicate the exploits of their Kiwi counterparts. Ajinkya Rahane admitted to a contrast in skillset while emphasising that India need to mount pressure on the Black Caps to find success.

“Ya, I think these type of conditions suit New Zealand well. They have swing bowlers and we have seam bowlers but I think our bowling attack has done really well in all the conditions, I think we have to stick to our strength – looking for swing, it’s all about finding that right length in England. It’s all about bowling those maiden overs, bowling those dot balls, creating that pressure as a bowling and fielding unit,” Ajinkya Rahane elaborated.

Only 141.1 overs were possible across the first four days of the WTC final as rain played spoilsport on two full days. Kyle Jamieson (5 for 31) helped New Zealand bundle India out for a paltry 217 before opener Devon Conway (54 off 153) set the foundation for a big total.

“I give myself 10-15 minutes to think about the game” – Ajinkya Rahane on his daily routine

Ajinkya Rahane has now gone 12 Test innings without a century
Ajinkya Rahane has now gone 12 Test innings without a century

Ajinkya Rahane emerged as India’s highest run-getter in the first innings by scoring a gritty 49 off 117 deliveries. But the 33-year-old received a lot of flak for the manner of his dismissal as he played a half-hearted pull while a square leg was in place.

The analysis continued into the following day, but Ajinkya Rahane revealed he is not someone to lose sleep over a day’s play. He said that he takes his mind off the on-field proceedings after revisiting them for 10-15 minutes after stumps.

“Generally after the practice session and end of day’s play, I give myself 10-15 minutes to think about the game, what happened and what can I do better, how can I improve and after that I completely switch off. I read some books, spend time with family and my daughter is here, so spending time with her,” Ajinkya Rahane added.

Getting a result will be a race against time. But if India can claw back into the game by taking a lead in the first innings, they will very well take some psychological victory out of the contest.

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Edited by Sai Krishna
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