The Board of Control for Cricket in India

Vijay’s concentration was most impressive: Rahane

Soon after lunch on the first day at the Gabba, India slipped from 100 for 1 to 137 for 3, losing their middle-order rocks, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.

The temperatures were soaring, humidity was taking its toll. Being on the field in itself was an arduous task, let alone facing Mitchell Johnson and company on the bounciest and fastest wicket in Australia.

India needed two men who could dig in there, fight the odds and put mind over matter. Enter messrs M Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane – two batsmen whose natural game is to fluently play their shots. The gorgeous shots did come, often regularly in the final session, but they were more a reward for their doggedness rather than an act of nonchalance.

The two put on 124 very solid yet attractive runs for the fourth wicket at 4.50 runs per over. Rahane, happily played a second fiddle to the “in zone” Vijay, while also showing his class with an unbeaten 75 at stumps.

As he hoped to get to his own century on the second morning of the Test, Rahane spoke to
BCCI.TV about the partnership that has put India in a strong position with 311 for 4. He explained how the two batsmen helped each other stay focused and gushed in appreciation of his partner’s incredible innings.

How satisfying was it to get those runs on this wicket that is known to be the fastest in Australia?

Very satisfying. I felt a little tentative in the first 10 minutes. Sitting in for a long time and then going out there and suddenly facing the bouncers on a fast wicket was a strange feeling. I was uncertain initially probably because my mind was working a bit too fast and I was thinking ahead rather than focusing on the ball. After the tea break I decided to play one ball at a time.

How difficult was it to handle the bounce?

It took me a while to understand the bounce. It was a very true wicket with a lot of bounce and the ball came at good pace as well. This pitch is very different from the one we played on in Adelaide. It was challenging to get used to the bounce but once I gauged it, I backed myself to play the shots I like – the cut and the pull.

Did the fact that the captain won the toss and elected to bat first, show you how confident he was of the batting lineup?

Absolutely. Our approach in the Adelaide Test has made the captain really confident of us. Credit to the captain for deciding to bat first because it was a decision taken with a very positive mindset. And that positivity had an impact on the entire team. It showed in the way we played.

Describe your stay in the middle with Vijay.

The partnership between Vijay and me was very crucial for the team. Vijay was batting in a very good flow and my job was just to be positive at the other end and rotate the strike. The shots that he played after tea interval were outstanding. So, we decided that I will play the defensive role while still keeping a positive mindset so that if I get a bad ball, I don’t miss out on it. It worked pretty well for us.

Did you feel like he was in a zone? When batting at the other end, do you feel it when your partner in his batting zone?

I could feel it. He has been in a different zone since the England series. His concentration has been amazing. That’s what impressed me the most about this innings of his, especially after the breaks. It was all the more important to concentrate today because it was so hot out there we really had to control our minds. He did that extremely well. We also helped each other stay focused by talking to each other after every other ball.

When he got to his century, he didn’t know until you told him. What happened there?

The moment he hit that four, I started celebrating. He had no idea that he had reached his hundred. I was so happy for him and I was surprised why he wasn’t reacting. I went up to him and said, ‘You can celebrate now. You’ve scored a century’. That’s when he realized.

Did the pitch ease out or did it become quicker as the day progressed?

I thought it remained pretty much the same throughout the day in terms of pace and bounce. It was very good for the bowlers if they bowled well. The Australian bowlers struggled with the heat. I don’t think they expected it to be so hot out there. But all said and done, the kind of cricket we played today, we should all be proud of each other.