The mind-games have already begun ahead of the big game and a lot is at stake in the second Test, beginning here on Saturday.
A win for India will level the series. A draw or a win will give the series to New Zealand. Then, there are 60 points of the World Test championship up for grabs.
India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane comprehends the value of the second Test. He’s a smart man, thinks about his game. And he is clear in his mind that India has to show intent.
At the Basin Reserve, the little stroke-maker promised much in the first innings but couldn’t kick on. He is determined not to let another opportunity slip by.
“You need self-belief as a player and a batsman. You need to showcase to the bowler that ‘I’ve come to counter-attack.’ That doesn’t mean you need to play a lot of shots,” Rahane said.
“It could be subtle changes like stepping out or a walk down the pitch. If the batsmen can show that intent then it puts doubt in the bowlers’ minds. You can stand outside the crease, inside the crease or before the off-stump, just to make the bowler think.”
Rahane said Indian batsmen needed to adapt. “On pitches where the ball comes slowly, or has tennis ball bounce, you have to let the ball come to you.”
He, however, added, “The India A guys played here and Hanuma [Vihari] was telling us that the wicket was much better. There is good pace and bounce on this wicket. We will have to see and assess the conditions very quickly on the first day and play accordingly.”
Rahane said the New Zealanders bowled very well in the first Test making it hard for the Indians to score runs.
“See, I thought personally they bowled really well. Pujara was trying his bit, he was actually looking to score runs, showed intent. But I think Boult, Southee and all their bowlers did not give away much.”
On India having to choose between R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, Rahane said, “Both are quality spinners.”
The Mumbaikar expected Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami to bounce back in the Test.