London, June 3 (IANS) Back in the Indian Test team for the first time after January 2022, veteran middle-order batter Ajinkya Rahane feels the culture in the current team is really good right now as the Rohit Sharma-led side gears up for the 2023 World Test Championship final.
India will take on Australia at The Oval in the WTC final from June 7-11. This will be the second time India will be playing in the marquee one-off final after losing to New Zealand in the inaugural edition of the title clash in 2021.
India won 10 of the 18 Tests in the 2021-23 cycle, securing victories in four of the six series they played.
“We played really well, but lost against New Zealand last time (in the 2021 WTC final). After that, the team has played really positive cricket. Rohit has been leading the team well and everyone has contributed very well. We are playing two consecutive finals (of the WTC) due to our consistency. Not only in Tests, we have been really consistent as a team in ODIs and T20Is too,” said Rahane in a video posted on bcci.tv.
“I thought the culture right now in the team is really good. Rohit is handling the team really well and I am sure Rahul bhai is also handling the team really well. That helps a lot as well and the atmosphere is really good. Whatever I am seeing right now is that everyone is enjoying each other’s company. The consistency in batting and bowling has helped us in reaching the WTC final,” he added.
Since his debut in 2013, Rahane had carved a reputation for himself as being one of India’s dependable batters in overseas conditions, as seen from eight of his 12 Test centuries coming outside of home.
A dip in form meant Rahane was last seen in the format in January 2022 against South Africa at Cape Town. But averaging 57.63 in the Ranji Trophy and injuries to KL Rahul as well as Shreyas Iyer meant Rahane is now back in the Test team.
“I always like batting in challenging conditions. I always like batting in conditions where they are favourable to bowlers and are challenging ones. For me, the preparation always matters a lot and the process too matters a lot. But I don’t want to think about the past, either good or bad, as it’s gone now. I just want to start afresh and contribute to the team,” he added.
Rahane had scored a match-winning hundred for India at Lord’s back in 2014, and though his Test average in England is currently at 26.03, the WTC final is an opportunity for him to make his second chance count in the Test side.
“Generally, we look at the wicket. But in England, you need to look upstairs. If it’s cloudy, it’s favourable for the batters and if it’s sunny, it will get better to bat on. It’s all about mindset and reading the situation well, staying in (the) moment and playing it session by session,” the right-handed batter said.
“In England, you never feel that you are in even if you are batting on 70. You need to stay in the moment and apply yourself to the conditions. Preparation helps a lot, so as backing your instincts and gameplan,” he concluded.