Rahane: India’s aim ‘to remain No. 1 in Tests’

“Every series in very important,” the India batsman says ahead of the first Test between India and Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens.

Wriddhiman Saha, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane practise at Eden Gardens on Monday.   -  K. R. Deepak

India will aim to solidify its No. 1 spot in Tests during the upcoming series against Sri Lanka, Ajinkya Rahane told mediapersons at Eden Gardens on Tuesday.

India swept Sri Lanka across all formats in a full series in the island nation earlier in the year, but its 9-0 cleansweep will have no bearing in the return series, according to Rahane. “This series is completely different compared to what we played in Sri Lanka. We are not taking Sri Lanka lightly even as we had a good series there,” Rahane said. “Right now we want to remain as No. 1 in Tests. Every series is very important. We want to win each and every series. We know the conditions here.”

The Sri Lanka series is seen as a prelude to India’s gruelling two months’ tour of South Africa against whom it will play three Tests, six One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) early next year.

“For us, each and every match and series is important before going to South Africa. We will think of South Africa when we go there. Right now we are focusing on this series. South Africa will be completely different. Even for Sri Lanka this is a very important series and they are preparing really well. We don’t want to take them lightly. We are just focusing on this series right now and the first game in Kolkata. We respect Sri Lanka and we just want to play our game, focus on our strengths rather than think about their combination or their strategies,” Rahane said.

READ: India focuses on reverse-sweeps, short balls

Since India’s third and last Test in Sri Lanka from August 12-14, India has been playing limited-overs matches non-stop. It included series against Australia and New Zealand at home. “Everyone knows how to adapt and adjust to all the formats. I don’t think we will have any problem. All the players are professionals. I don’t think will have problem in adjustment. The first Test here is important to get the momentum.”

During the training session at the venue on Monday, Rahane was seen playing a lot of sweep shots, including the unorthodox reverse sweep against the spinners. “It’s important to improve your game everyday and evolve when you are practising at the nets. I just want to improve. I think if I improve one shot in the nets, I will be better off in the game. If an opportunity comes in the game, I’m 100 percent confident of playing a particular shot. So, practising sweep, reverse sweep and paddle sweep just as options.

‘Not too concerned’

“I’m comfortable playing those shots. For me it’s important to give 100 percent at the nets. I want to do that five-six times at the nets and if I’m comfortable and confident I will play that shot in the game,” said Rahane.

Rahane got out for 49 and 45 in his last two Ranji Trophy matches against Odisha and Baroda respectively, but he was “not too concerned” about that. “I’m batting really well. I have four 50s in a row,” he said referring to his knocks against Australia in the ODI series in September-October.

READ: Captain Kohli benefiting from Saha’s inputs

“Yes I got out on 45 and 49 in Ranji Trophy but for me it was important to play as many balls as possible and get the practice for this Test series. Four fifties also matter a lot for the team. In the last (Ranji) game for us in Mumbai at one point it was crucial. I just wanted to play as many balls as possible without being worried about the scores.”

All-rounder Hardik Pandya has been rested for the Test series and Rahane said it was important to manage the workload. “Apart from training it’s very important to recover. We focus on our training as well as recovery sessions, massage, ice bath, pool sessions. The team management takes care of all these aspects. In future they will play many matches so recovery is very important.”

Asked if Eden wicket will be a green top, he said: “Let’s wait for the match to start. We still have two days to go. We have to wait. I’ve not seen the wicket.”

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