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Rahul confident of big score in second essay

India opener happy to be amongst runs, expects a big one round the corner

It was a very uncharacteristic kind of innings from KL Rahul. Often the one to take charge and score at a brisk pace early on, Rahul went into the defensive and weathered the Australian pace storm with poise. He ducked, attacked when need be and left alone deliveries with watchfulness. For Rahul, it was the most challenging morning session till date. “It has been a fantastic cricket wicket. I can say, is the toughest session I have faced in Test cricket so far,” Rahul said. “They put the ball in the right areas and they swung the ball, bowled with lot of pace and venom. There is something in it for bowlers and it will keep us interested in the 2nd innings when we go out there to bowl.

“When I was batting in the first session, my intent was to give the ball and the bowlers the respect and then come out in the second session and make some runs.”

Rahul was peppered with the short stuff and had a personal battle going on with Pat Cummins. There were a few stares and words exchanged, but Rahul relished the challenge. “The first session was really tough, was challenging for sure. Had to leave the balls outside off-stump, leave the bouncers, yeah I was enjoying it. I haven’t been challenged with swing and bounce, it was good facing Josh and Cummins when they were bowling with a lot of heart.

“Cummins was fast, he was accurate. This wicket is obviously helping them as well. The conditions were nice and cool, guess they could bowl longer spells and they didn't really get tired. You can say that he's been the guy who has, as a fast bowler, challenged us in this series.”

Challenge apart, Rahul tried to hook one of Cummins’ bouncers. This after he was set and had soaked in all the early morning pressure. Rahul later said, he rued his shot execution. “It was horrible execution for sure. But having batted out there in the middle for long time, I thought I could have taken him on as there were no fielders at the back. My intent was right. Hopefully in the second innings, I can get him away. So I will go out with a positive intent in 2nd innings again.”

Rahul has scored five half centuries thus far but yet to convert any of those into a big one. The opener believed a big one was just round the corner.

“I am obviously a little disappointed that I have not been able to convert the starts and get big runs for the team. As an opening batsmen, my responsibility is to spend as much time in the middle as I can, try and get big scores in the first innings so that we don’t have to bat in the second innings.

“On a personal front, hasn’t been a bad series for me. I got starts, batted really well, enjoyed batted in the middle. The Australian bowlers haven’t made it easy. They have challenged us in all the games. Hopefully one good knock in the second innings might be the time. Might be the knock I have been waiting for the whole series.”

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

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Will play only if fully fit: Virat

India captain says he will take the field only after getting through fitness tests

India captain Virat Kohli was the first to walk into the ground amidst the scenic Himalayas in the background. It was serene, quiet and calm much like the captain’s body language on the morning of the eve of the final Test. Gloves on, with his bat, Virat walked to a corner of the ground and took a few throwdowns from batting coach Sanjay Bangar. A few hits to get a sense of how his shoulder was acting up and Virat was done. He did continue the same later in one of the corner of the nets, had a long discussion with the team physiothereapist and walked back into the dressing room.

Virat, later addressed the media and spoke about the situation of his injury. He assured, he will only feature in the final Test if he felt he was 100 per cent fit. “I will take the field only if I am hundred percent fit for the game. I don’t know the magnitude of the risk. All I know is that if I go through fitness test, I will take the field.”

The next few hours leading up to the Test match will be crucial for Virat’s recovery process. Whether he will take the field on Saturday, only time will tell. While talking to the media, Virat spoke about the discomfort he had while batting. “I wouldn’t say it is a normal feeling. It is obviously different from how you play at 100% fitness. Certainly, at this stage, the injury has an element of being aggravated in the field. While batting, there is no problem whatsoever of it getting aggravated. I have taken medication after the last game, so I am just hoping that it takes me only a bit more time to get back to the normal movements that I have. As I said, I have to give it a few more hours and take that call. We will have to give it that much time more to make a call with the physiotherapist.”

Virat further suggested that it was an impact injury and not an injury owing to lack of fitness. He assured he would take the right call keeping in mind the team’s best interest. “It’s not an injury caused because of lack of fitness. It’s an impact injury and the full match scenario, bowling at 140kmph and playing against that bowling needs to be kept in mind. As a player, as a captain you want to push yourself to take the field, if you can to help team’s cause. But we need to wait a bit more before we can take that decision.”

In a possibility of Virat being ruled out, Ajinkya Rahane is bound to take up the captaincy and lead the side in the final Test. Virat was confident of his deputy and his teammates. “I'm sure the guys will take it as an opportunity to still take the team ahead. Everyone's really proud and motivated to play for the country and me playing or not playing shouldn't make so much of a difference to the other 10 guys because they have a responsibility to fulfil as well. I have not done anything special so far, but still the guys have fought it out and that shows why we are the number 1 team in the world. We have quality players who want to step up given these kinds of opportunities. If that scenario happens, I am sure everyone's looking at it as probably the game-changing game of their lives. Everyone is looking very optimistic for tomorrow's game regardless.”

Shifting focus to the final Test, Virat was confident of a tight contest between both sides. He expected the pitch to assist the batsman and bowlers equally. “I think it is a very good cricket wicket. It has always been very good for the batsmen to get in and get value for their shots. And the bowlers as well, there is good bounce for the spinners. There is obviously good pace off the wicket for the quicks as well.

“If you do any discipline well, you can reap rewards on this kind of wicket. And the ball travels in the air also. I think it’s an opportunity for bat and ball both to dominate in different situations in the game and it will be a well-contested game for sure. It will certainly test the players to the fullest and good cricket should be on display on this wicket.”

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

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