India’s deputy captain, Ajinkya Rahane, shared on Friday the message regular skipper Virat Kohli had given the Indian team before leaving for India on paternity leave. Rahane said Kohli urged him to be himself and play undaunted cricket. “Yes, Virat spoke to all of us before we left. We had our team dinner in Adelaide, so he spoke to all of us about staying in the moment, playing for each other and yes, enjoying each other’s success and helping each other out on the pitch,” said Rahane on the eve of the second test in Melbourne.
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Rahane said he would rather focus on his team than worry about Australia’s “mind games” ahead of the “Boxing Day” test starting on Saturday.
Australian coach Justin Langer had said on Thursday that he would be “happy” if the Indian team were under some stress after the humiliating defeat in the first test, and would like to put pressure on Rahane, who takes the lead in the absence of a regular skipper. Virat Kohli.
“Australians are very good at playing brain games and I will let them do that. We focus on ourselves, on what we want to do as a unit and we are all going to support ourselves,” said Rahane.
Rahane said an hour of bad cricket on the third morning in Adelaide doesn’t define this team.
“Speaking of the last test match, we had relatively two good days, only one bad hour, in which we actually lost it completely,” he said.
“The chat was all about supporting ourselves as individuals and as a team, playing to our strengths and whatever we have planned in the first test match, just stick with that.”
Young opener Shubman Gill will make his debut in the second Test, and Rahane said he wants to give him and Mayank Agarwal freedom and not put them under undue pressure.
Mohammed Siraj will make his debut on Saturday, and Rahane called him “as talented” as Gill, even though he didn’t mention him because the interaction with the media took place before India released their game XI.
Rahane expects Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav to form a formidable partnership as he escorts the unit from the trench where he will be stationed.
“Apart from Jasprit, Umesh (Yadav) and the man (Siraj) who will play in place of (Mohammed) Shami tomorrow, they are also equally talented,” said Rahane.
“Umesh has been doing really well for so many years, so it’s all about bowling in partnerships for us.”
So are there specific areas the batsmen were working on?
“Nothing special, we have to support our base, support our plans, as I said before, we only had one bad hour, so it’s about staying positive, supporting your own abilities and building partnerships,” said Rahane.
India has won three Tests at the MCG in the last 73 years and Rahane thinks the wicket will be a little different this time.
“Overall, MCG … 2018 was a slightly different wicket, but when we played here in 2014 and the other teams when they played here, it’s actually a really good wicket, it plays really well,” said Rahane.
It is possible that there will be a bid as India has two spinners on board.
‘Tomorrow will be different. We don’t know, we have to go and see the wicket as soon as possible and adapt, ‘said the skipper.
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