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You will not find any 'masala' here: Rahane on Virat Kohli captaincy debate

Ajinkya Rahane had a fair idea that a question about his indifferent form would pop up and he was ready to meet the challenging delivery head-on with a never-seen-before aggression

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Ajinkya Rahane | Virat Kohli | India vs England

Press Trust of India  |  Chennai 

Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane during practice session ahead of India vs England 2nd Test match at Chepauk Stadium. Photo: @BCCI
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane during practice session at Chepauk Stadium. Photo: @BCCI

had a fair idea that a question about his indifferent form would pop up and he was ready to meet the challenging delivery head on with a never-seen-before aggression.

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Skipper Virat Kohli, after the 227-run defeat to England in the opening Test, had vehemently defended Rahane, who hasn't scored too many runs before or after the Melbourne Test against Australia where his hundred enabled India to draw the series level.

The form came up again on the eve of the second Test against England and the man in question was ready to tackle the issue head on.

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"See we are playing at home after two years. Our last home series, was against South Africa. If you take (the scores of that series) out, you will find something over there," Rahane answered in third person with a deadpan expression referring to his scores of 59 and 115 against the Proteas in that 2019 series.

"It's all about the team and not the individual and my focus is how can I contribute for the team. If you take out the last 10-15 Test matches, you will see some runs over there.

"I don't need to think about what's happening on the outside," the vice-captain, who has scored around 1000 runs in his last 15 long form game, said.

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It was a different Rahane, someone who was not ready to take a backward step when faced with difficult questions.

When a scribe asked if the drooping shoulders and negative body language in the first Test were due to a change in captaincy, he was far from amused.

"There are moments when you don't have that energy but that doesn't mean that it has happened because of a change in captaincy. As I have said earlier, Virat is our captain and will remain our captain.

"If you are trying to dig in and fine some 'masala' (controversy), unfortunately you will not get it. Look, body language can be a bit down at times and the wicket was such in the first 2 days, it could be because of that. There could be many reasons."

The answer was pretty similar to what Kohli gave when asked about Rahane's form and the captaincy factor.

Ditto when asked about a change in approach from Cheteshwar Pujara after his defensive batting in Australia, which earned a lot of praise from pundits.

"See no one questioned his batting approach in the team and that's what matters. What people talk outside doesn't matter to us," Kohli's deputy whacked the delivery straight into the stands.

"The way he played in Australia and the way he played now, it's really important for us. He has played 80 odd Test matches and knows his game really well, no one questioned his ability," he said.

The Mumbai batsman also defended his teammates Rohit Sharma's underwhelming form, terming it a matter of time before he sets up a win for the hosts.

"Rohit is an important member of our team and it's not about scoring 100 or 150 but in Australia, he batted well and made those important contributions, 2 (poor) innings don't make anyone a bad player.

"Rohit is a player who has in past, won us matches. You know when he gets set, he can win you matches. You have to have faith in that particular player," he added.

He knows a thing or two about comebacks after a dismal show. After all, Adelaide's 36 all out to a chase of 328 in Brisbane cannot be easily forgotten.

The key factor, according to Rahane, is not over-analysing a defeat which can lead to a negative mind-set.

Asked what exactly do players mean when they say that "we have to regroup", he replied, "Regrouping is addressing concerns but not tending to over-think.

"At times when you lose, you tend to delve deep into the reasons and that brings in negativity and it's not your fault but you still start blaming yourself.

"What happened in the last Test, we need to accept...We need to move on and the endeavour should be on how to do well in all departments of the game.

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First Published: Fri, February 12 2021. 16:38 IST