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Focus on remaining No. 1 Test team: Jinx

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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.” Ajinkya Rahane.

Kolkata : India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has said their 9-0 clean sweep in Sri Lanka will have no bearing in the return series and they remain focussed on maintaining the No. 1 spot in Tests.

India swept Sri Lanka across all formats in a full series in the island nation. Now India are hosting a return series comprising three Tests and equal number of ODIs 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,” Rahane told a news conference on the sidelines of their training at the Eden.


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 in January-February 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 are just focusing on this series right now and the first game in Kolkata. 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 from August 12-14, 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 will have problem in adjustment. The first Test here 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 everyday and evolve when you are practicing 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, practicing 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 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.”

All-rounder Hardik Pandya has been rested for the Test series and Rahane said it was important to manage the workload. “Apart from training it’s very important to recover. We focus on our training as well as recovery sessions, massage, ice bath, pool sessions. The team management taking care of all these aspects. In future, they will play many matches so recovery is very important.”

Asked about Eden wicket , he said: “Let’s wait for the match to start. We still have two days to go. I’ve not seen the wicket.”

It will be a good wicket: Ganguly

Kolkata : Former India captain Sourav Ganguly on Tuesday inspected the pitch that will host first India-Sri Lanka Test and insisted that the track will produce a good contest.  “It will be a good wicket,” Ganguly told reporters.

The Cricket Association of Bengal president later said playing is always more difficult compared to administration. “Here you miss and you get out, in every other thing you get a second chance. As a player, you don’t… Playing is always difficult there’s no retake for a player,” Ganguly later said at a promotional event also attended by India’s first World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev. Kapil Dev remembered his sacking from the Indian team in the fourth Test against England at the Eden Gardens in December 1984. “I was not in Kolkata, I was back in Delhi as I was out of the team enjoying a six-day holiday given to me by the selectors,” Kapil quipped when asked about the incident.