indian cricket

If we want to remain as number one in Tests, every series is important: Ajinkya Rahane

India play host to Sri Lanka in a three-match Test series starting on Thursday.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said on Tuesday their 9-0 clean sweep in Sri Lanka will have no bearing in the return series and they remain focused on maintaining the No 1 spot in Test cricket, reported PTI.

India swept Sri Lanka across all formats in a full series in the island nation earlier this year. Now India play host in a return series comprising three Tests and equal number of one-day internationals and T20Is.

“This series is completely different compared to what we played in Sri Lanka. We are not taking Sri Lanka lightly even as we had a good series there,” said Rahane. “Right now if we want to remain as number one in Tests, every series is very important. We want to win each and every series. We know the conditions here.”

The low-profile Sri Lanka series is seen as a prelude to their gruelling two months’ tour to South Africa against whom they will play three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is beginning in January next year.

“For us each and every match and series is important before going to South Africa. We will think of South Africa when we go there. Right now we are focusing on this series. South Africa will be completely different. Even for Sri Lanka this is a very important series and they are preparing really well. We don’t want to take them lightly. We respect Sri Lanka and we just want to play our game, focus on our strengths rather than thinking about their combination or their strategies,” he said.

Since their third and last Test in Sri Lanka, India have been playing back to back limited overs matches, which included series against Australia and New Zealand at home.

“Everyone knows how to adapt and adjust to all the formats. I don’t think we will have any problem. All the players are professionals. I don’t think we will have problem in adjustment. The first Test [in Kolkata] is important to get the momentum.”

Rahane was seen playing a lot of sweep shots on Monday including the unorthodox reverse sweep against the spinners.

“It’s important to improve your game every day and evolve when you are practising at the nets. I just want to improve. I think if I improve one shot in the nets, I will be better off in the game. If an opportunity comes in the game, I’m 100 per cent confident of playing a particular shot. So, practising sweep, reverse sweep and paddle sweep just as options. I’m comfortable playing those shots. For me it’s important to give 100 per cent at the nets. I want to do that five-six times at the nets and if I’m comfortable and confident I will play that shot in the game,” said Rahane.

Rahane got out for 49, 0, 0 and 45 in his last two Ranji matches against Odisha and Baroda respectively, but he was ‘not too concerned’ about that.

“I’m batting really well. I have four 50s in a row,” he said referring to his knocks against Australia in the ODI series in September-October. “Yes I got out on 45 and 49 in Ranji Trophy but for me it was important to play as many balls as possible and get the practice for this Test series. Four fifties also matter a lot for the team. In the last (Ranji) game for us in Mumbai at one point it was crucial. I just wanted to play as many balls as possible without being worried about the scores.”

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