Only important people are criticised, Ajinkya Rahane has said, dismissing concerns that the talk around his form might have had any impact on his game. Rahane has averaged 27.36 in 13 Tests since the start of 2020, but his innings of 61 and the partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara, another batter struggling for big runs, helped India turn around a position of disadvantage into an incredible Test win at Lord's.
India were effectively 28 for 3 when Rahane walked in to join Pujara in the second innings with England ecstatic at having just dismissed Virat Kohli, who himself is going through a lean patch. Rahane and Pujara added 100 runs for the fourth wicket in 49.3 overs to get India into a fighting position before the tail ran away with the game.
"I am happy people are talking about me," Rahane said when asked if he found it frustrating that he has been under the scanner for long. "I have always felt people talk about important people so I am not concerned about that. It's all about the contributions for the team. Cheteshwar and I have been playing for a long time, we know how to handle pressure, we know how to handle certain situations, so we are not concerned about them. We are just focusing on the team, we just want to contribute for the team, and that's what we are doing. Whatever we can't control, we are not thinking about that."
Does the criticism motivate? "Everything motivates," Rahane said. "I mean playing for the country motivates me the most. I am not bothered about criticism. As I said, people criticise only important people. I am happy people are criticising me. I only focus on the controllables."
Rahane was satisfied that he and Pujara were able to contribute to the team's case at Lord's. "It was really satisfying," Rahane said. "I always believe in contributions to the team. For me, I always think about the team so that contribution of 61 or 62 was really important.
"It was all about hanging in there. The communication was all about thinking about small targets and then build it from there. We always talk about Cheteshwar, he plays slow, but that innings was really important for us. He batted 200-plus balls, even though he got just 46  runs, I think those 200 balls were really important for us.
"We back each other. He told me to back my game. I told him to back his own game, whatever methods he wants to go with. I thought the communication was very good. We just wanted to build one good partnership. We knew 170-180 would have been a very good score on that wicket."
Two days before the Headingley Test, the third of the series in which India lead by 1-0, Rahane said all the fast bowlers, including Shardul Thakur, who missed the Lord's Test with a hamstring injury, were fit and available for selection. They hadn't yet decided the combination they were going to go with.
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