Rahane: This team has the quality to defend any total

“It is a good sign that they are not able to beat them. They (Chahal and Yadav) both are quality spinners, and have done well in the domestic circuit. They are improving day by day, and most importantly, are taking wickets in middle overs and not conceding runs,” Rahane said on Saturday.

After struggling in Chennai, Ajinkya Rahane overcame the odds in Kolkata in the opening slot — a position that he got after Shikhar Dhawan opted out of the first three games.   -  PTI

On September 24, 2007, a young outfit led by a newly-bestowed T20 captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni changed the cricketing landscape forever by defeating Pakistan in an epic final of the inaugural World Twenty20 in Johannesburg. On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the memorable night, the Indian contingent didn't appear to be overawed by the occasion as it prepared for Sunday's third ODI against Australia.

Dhoni and Rohit Sharma, the only two survivors of that manic fortnight in the rainbow nation, were involved in their routine drills. While Dhoni bowled a few leg-spinners along with the spin quarter before having a go at the spinners later on, Sharma, the newly-anointed ODI vice-captain, had a long stint in the next net facing a barrage of pace bowlers.

It was understandable to see Sharma putting his head down considering he hasn't yet got going in the series so far. Despite Sharma's slow start and an inconsistent middle order, the Indian team didn't suffer in the first two games due to vital contributions from the lower middle-order and an impeccable performance by the bowling unit.

What is also interesting is that the late surge of the monsoon has resulted in both the previous strips being far from being a batting paradise. It made the contest slightly even between the two teams. However, India's bowling exploits have resulted in a lop-sided contests in the first two matches despite the team's inability to post an imposing total.

“You can't expect to score 300 or 350 every time you bat. There will be times when you score 240 or 280 but it's more important when you defend such totals as well. This team has the quality to defend any total. The bowling attack is so good that the team is confident that we can defend and win matches even despite not putting up huge totals,” said opening batsman Ajinkya Rahane at the Holkar Stadium on Saturday.

“We are confident that we can restrict any opposition. When a couple of batsmen get set and score big, you tend to get enough totals. But when you end up winning matches even after scoring 240-ish totals, you establish yourself as the No. 1 team.”

For India to establish itself as the numero uno team in ODIs, the middle-order conundrum needs to be resolved at the earliest. The lack of solid stakeholders for the middle-order slots has resulted in India being forced to push opening batsmen down the order, contrary to the general trend of promoting batsmen in the batting order.

Rahane preferred to draw positives even from the unstable batting order. “That adjustment is completely mental but the best thing about this side is that the guys can all bat anywhere, so that flexibility is there,” he said. “I have batted at the No. 3, 4, and 5. It is important how you deal with the situation. Adjustment is completely in the mind. Technically you can adapt anywhere, but it's the mindset that matters.”

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