Rahane: 'We have a plan for everything against them'

Ajinkya Rahane – who is assumed to have regained his designation as vice-captain with his comeback into the team during the one-off Test against Bangladesh – had no qualms in spelling it out to verbal volleys thrown at them by the Australian team during the forthcoming Test series.

Rahane is usually considered to be an aggressive-on-the-field but reticent-off-it cricketer.   -  K. R. Deepak

"Give it back to them."

That seemed to be the mantra adopted by the combination of team director Ravi Shastri and newly appointed Test captain Virat Kohli during India’s last Test tour Down Under. Shastri has since passed the team’s charge to Anil Kumble. And Kohli has sobered down a little when it comes to expressing on the field.

That doesn’t really mean that Kohli and company will not react to verbal volleys thrown at them by the Australian team during the forthcoming Test series.

In fact, Ajinkya Rahane – who is assumed to have regained his designation as vice-captain with his comeback into the team during the one-off Test against Bangladesh – had no qualms in spelling it out.

“We don’t know whether they will sledge or not. For us, we have a plan for everything against them,” Rahane said after training with his team-mates at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium at Gahunje on Monday.

“We cannot reveal what the plan is – whether skill-wise or sledging-wise. But we know that Australians are pretty good at playing mind-games. Let them do whatever they want to on the field. Our objective will be to dominate them in every aspect on the field.”

Rahane is usually considered to be an aggressive-on-the-field but reticent-off-it cricketer. As much as the certainty in his remark is a sign of him belonging to a confident, urban-Indian generation, it also reflects the fact that India is rank favourites to repeat its whitewash when Australia last toured India for a Test series.

Even though Australia has started the process of rebuilding the Test team with a series win at home against Pakistan after reaching the nadir when it was blanked by South Africa, Australia is considered to be a no-match for an on-song Indian team on the basis of the conditions.

Its performance on Asian wickets, even if the wickets aren’t dust-bowls, has been mediocre in the recent past and it would take a huge effort for Smith’s army to stretch India over the next six weeks.

However, despite its tag of underdogs, Australia – considered to be the most in-your-face team across sporting arenas, not just cricket – is not expected to hold itself back when it comes to sledging Indians.

Captain Smith has already clarified that he will not hold back his players from expressing themselves on the field, Shreyas Iyer, the India A double-centurion, was at the receiving end of it during the tour game in Mumbai.

Sledging isn’t necessarily about being offensive. The Australians have over the years mastered the art of tickling the opposition and thus forcing them into a mistake.

As was reflected in Iyer’s confession of dealing with remarks like “he cannot defend the ball” from blokes like ’keeper Matthew Wade and David Warner behind the wicket.

From the spectators’ perspective, even if both the teams don’t match each other in terms of skills on the field, it seems there would be no dearth of firecrackers when it comes to players having a go at each other.