The six-wicket win over Bangladesh in their first game of the 2014 Asia Cup was a welcome change for Team India. Chasing 280, they were 54 for two in the 13th over, but Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane dug in their heels to put India in the driver’s seat.
While India’s captain for the series, Kohli, smashed 136 off 122 balls, Rahane scored an 83-ball 73. The pair built a 213-run partnership to set up a welcome win for India. “During our partnership, our conversation in the middle overs was that we should stay together for as long as possible. The longer we stayed, the better it would be for the team. I was very happy that we had a good partnership and we could help the team win,” Rahane said.
Speaking about the significance of the win, Rahane said, “It’s very important for us. It gives great momentum at the start of the series. We are looking forward to the coming matches now.”
“We played good cricket, bowlers did really well in the last five overs. I think credit goes to the whole team, and Virat batted brilliantly.”
Discussing the game, when asked if dew was a factor in the second half of the match, Rahane said, “I don’t think so. It was there, but only after 38-40 overs. But 280 is really tough to chase against any opposition. We really respect the Bangladesh bowlers and the Bangladesh team. Myself and Virat decided to just respect their bowlers and play our cricket, like we have been playing from the last few months. We just wanted to back ourselves.”
After Kohli’s departure, Rahane carried the innings forward, but with the target just eight runs away, Rahane perished. Asked about the disappointment of not finishing the game, he said, “I had it in my mind that I should stay till the end and take the team to victory, because it wasn’t that easy for a new batsman to play his strokes.”
Speaking about his own innings, he mentioned, “I wasn’t thinking about the past. I was slightly relaxed and just wanted to play my game. I got a 100 in the last innings in New Zealand, so I was confident. My plan was to take my time initially and then play my shots. That really worked today.”
Elaborating on how he had worked on building his innings and converting starts, Rahane said, “I was batting really well in New Zealand, but couldn’t convert those starts. I was really disappointed in New Zealand. But here, as I said, I got a 100 in New Zealand in my last innings in the Test match, so I was feeling really confident about my batting. I just wanted to spend time in the middle because the wicket was slightly slow and low and it was not easy to play shots initially. Even shot selection was really crucial on this wicket. I was just telling myself, ‘Keep playing till the end and we will see what happens.’ That really worked today.”
“Before going to bat, I was just thinking that I have to play one ball at a time and just play on the merit of the ball.”
Asked what had gone wrong earlier for him, the middle-order batsman replied, “I think I was not backing myself that time. Here I backed myself and we saw the result.”
Earlier in the match, the Indian bowlers had done well to restrict the opposition when Bangladesh were looking at a 300-plus score after captain Mushfiqur Rahim’s century. Talking about the bowling attack and the efforts they have been putting in, like practicing by bowling at dummies in the nets, Rahane said, “I think that is working really well. Joey (Joe Dawes) is really working hard with the bowlers in the nets and that is really crucial. On this wicket, I think the bowlers did really well. Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar), and (Mohammed) Shami later on, bowled wicket to wicket and it was not easy to hit that length.”
Asked about the spinners and whether their lack of wickets is a worry given that spin is India’s strength, he replied that, that wasn’t the case. “(Ravindra) Jadeja and (Ravichandran) Ashwin are bowling really well. It’s just a matter of momentum and I am sure they will do a good job for us in the coming games.”