Ajinkya Rahane feels that India’s issues against the short ball are being spoken about “too much”, adding that their 2-0 Test series defeat in New Zealand came about mainly due to their opposition’s skilful use of home conditions.
New Zealand’s bowlers have used the short ball liberally in recent years, especially at home, and it was the weapon of choice for Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner in particular in the series against India. After India’s loss in the first Test in Wellington, their captain Virat Kohli had put their issues against the short ball down to an unusually two-paced pitch, but the pitch for the second Test in Christchurch was truer in terms of pace, even if it offered plenty of seam movement.
Rahane came under scrutiny for his lack of control against the short ball during India’s second innings in Christchurch, getting dropped in the deep off an airborne pull shot, taking a blow to the helmet, and then dragging a Wagner short ball, which came on slower than expected, onto the stumps. He made 9 off 43 balls in that innings, an unsatisfactory end to a tour that had begun fairly promisingly for him in Wellington, where he had looked the most assured of India’s middle-order batsmen.
“People are speaking too much about it (short balls),” Rahane said, speaking to mediapersons in Mumbai. “If you see Melbourne innings [in the third Test against Australia in 2018], we have dominated. We all play short balls well, one game doesn’t make you bad players of short ball.
“They [New Zealand bowlers] used the breeze factor very well because in New Zealand it was biggest factor, cutting the angle and pace.”
India’s batsmen managed just four individual fifties and a highest team total of 242 in the Test series, and were bundled out for under 200 on the other three occasions. Rahane, who scored 91 runs in the series at 22,75, said he wasn’t “worried” about India’s position going forward in the World Test Championship.
Having earned the maximum possible 360 points from their first three series, India suffered their first Test Championship defeats on their New Zealand tour. India remain No. 1 on the table, and are still favourites to feature in next year’s final at Lord’s.
“I am not too much worried about that and I am not going too much deep into that,” Rahane said. “Test Championship is all about one match and one series at a time, one match at a time because points are involved. One bad game or two bad games will not make us a bad team.
“We have really done a good job in the last three-four years. Now Test Championship has started. In this journey, you are going to win and lose some matches.”