India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane believes his team needs to bat with more intent and a clear mindset when they face New Zealand pacers in the second and final Test beginning on Saturday at the Hagley Oval.
The Indian batsmen were found struggling against the New Zealand pacers in the first Test which they lost by 10 wickets at the Basin Reserve.
“I am not saying (we have to be) more aggressive but having that intent and clear mindset will help us,” Rahane told reporters on Thursday.
“For me, as a batsman it is important you show your intent to the bowler, if you stand in one spot then the bowler doesn’t need to change anything. These are small things we have been working on in practice and how to use the crease and the angles. Doesn’t matter how much you practice you must trust or have the belief to be able to do it in the middle,” he added.
Rahane, who was one of the Indian batters who could deal with the difficult angles with which New Zealand pacers were bowling, further called on his teammates to practice negating the awkward angles that Neil Wagner and company can create at the Hagley Oval.
“I think they (New Zealand pacers) used that angle really well in Wellington. Bowling wide of the crease or from the centre, they changed angles while bowling the short balls. I think their plan was completely clear. As a batsman, if you are going to think about a particular shot, then you need to back yourself and play that shot. You cannot doubt yourself. We need to forget what happened in Wellington.
“That’s what I said: try and learn what mistakes we did as a group, what can we learn. I think we have to practice those angles. We had a practice session and we have one more tomorrow. And you have to practice that and trust your ability in the middle.
“But to change or adjust those angles there are times you need to be instinctive while you are batting. It can mean standing on off-stump, or standing outside the crease or staying deep inside the crease — like if it is a pitch for cut shot then you can stand deeper in the crease. This is the mental side of the game,” he added.
Rahane further defended senior batsman Cheteshwar Pujara who drew a lot of flak for his defensive approach in the first Test. Pujara scored 11 off 81 balls in the second innings and was criticised by many.
“Pujara was trying his bit. He was actually looking to score runs. But I think Boult, Southee and all their bowlers did not give away much. It is all about having that intent and I think Pujara was actually looking to score runs. It happens to all batsmen, I mean all batsmen go through that phase,” Rahane said.
“You have to come back stronger and play accordingly. If you can trust your ability at the centre and counter attack and everyone’s game is different. I play completely different game than Virat Kohli and Pujara. As a team we need to figure it out how we are going to play in the middle, communication will be the key,” he added.