We won’t take Sri Lanka lightly: Rahane

Indian middle order batsman not worried about lack of form

16:36 November 14, 2017

Kolkata: India vice captain Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday said they are not taking Sri Lanka lightly despite recently humbling the tourists 9-0 across all formats in their own den.

India play three Tests, three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) against the Islanders. The first rubber starts on Thursday at the Eden Gardens here.

“This series is completely different compared to how we played in Sri Lanka. We know the conditions here but we are not taking Sri Lanka lightly. We had a good series in Sri Lanka,” Rahane told reporters here two days ahead of the first Test.

“For us, every match and series is important before going to South Africa (in January) but I feel we are just focusing on this series right now, first game in Kolkata. We just want to think about our game rather than thinking about their combination or their strengths.”

Rahane was seen practicing a lot of reverse sweep during practice on Monday. Asked about the reason, the Mumbai right-handed batsman said: “It is important to improve your game day by day when you are practicing in the nets. It is important to evolve.

“I always think that if I improve one shot in the net session I will be better off in the game. If opportunity comes in the game, I am 100 per cent confident of playing a particular shot. So I am just practising reverse sweeps, sweeps and paddle sweeps just as an option.”

Is he comfortable playing the reverse sweep? “I am comfortable. For me it’s important to give my best in the nets. Do that I think 5-6 maybe more than that. If I am comfortable in the game, maybe I will play that shot,” Rahane said.

India will play a Test after a gap of three months. Virat Kohli and co have since then been playing white-ball cricket against Australia and more recently New Zealand. Rahane, though, said shifting formats won’t be an issue.

“The team shape is good. We all know how to adjust in different formats. We are all professionals so there won’t be any problem,” the 29-year-old said.

“Yesterday we had a good practice session so it won’t be difficult to adjust. First Test is important to get the momentum. I am sure preparation will be good before the first Test.”

Rahane, meanwhile, is not losing sleep over his recent failures to convert starts into big scores.

The 29-year old has scores of 5, 55, 70, 53, 61 in his last five international ODIs against Australia.

In the domestic circuit, the Mumbai batsman registered two ducks in the second and first innings against Odisha and Baroda respectively but also notched up 49 and 45 in the other two innings of the same matches.

Rahane did not play a single match against New Zealand.

In his last Test against the Sri Lankans in the latter’s own lair, Rahane scored 17 in the first innings.

“I am not too concerned about that. I am batting really well. I got four fifties in a row in the one-day series,” Rahane told reporters here.

“Yes I got out on 49 and 45 in Ranji Trophy but for me it was important to play as many balls as possible and get that practice for the Test series. See if you score 40-50 or if you score 100 plus run, I mean 40-50 also matters a lot for a team. In the last game for us in Mumbai, at one point it was really crucial,” he added.