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Aussies begin favourites: Ajinkya Rahane

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Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday stressed on the need for India to come up with big partnerships to win their maiden series Down Under.

The first Test against Australia begins on Thursday.

Rahane cited the example of his 262-run partnership with Virat Kohli at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 2014-15 and said that the Australians’ focus on the India captain helps other batsmen do their job silently at the other end.

“Each and every batsman’s role will be to contribute for the team and I think for us it is important to get those long partnerships together… That will be really helpful in Australia,” Rahane said during a media conference in Adelaide.

“Last time both of us really enjoyed that partnership at the MCG. Mitchell Johnson was going after Virat Kohli and I was enjoying from the other end as well as playing my own game. Virat was really aggressive and going after the bowlers, verbally as well.

“That really helped me focus on my game and I played my natural attacking game at the other end. But I was still batting completely opposite to Virat. As an individual you have to understand that everyone’s role is completely different. This is a team sport and Virat also understands that.”

The Indian batting line-up has come under immense criticism for their twin failures in South Africa and England, wherein Kohli was the only one to score consistently.

“People will criticise or appreciate, but for us it matters to stay together in difficult times. In England, conditions were really challenging and even English batsmen struggled a lot. Apart from Alastair Cook’s last Test innings, no one scored (big runs) for them. So it is important not to focus on criticism or even on people who appreciate,” said Rahane.

“It is important to start fresh in each and every series. In England and South Africa, we learnt a lot and there are definitely areas to improve. When you tour abroad, in countries like England, South Africa and Australia, it is important to start well.”

Asked about his growth as a batsman since he first came here as part of the 2014-15 touring party, Rahane said: “As a batsman in 2014, personally I thought I did really well but the team’s performance matters more. When you do well as a team, you feel really good.”

His focus will be on playing long. “Personally I learnt a lot from the last tour here. In South Africa, Johannesburg match was really crucial for me. I thought I did well.

“In England I got a couple good starts – 80-odd in Nottingham and another half-century in Southampton. For me as a No.5 batsman, it is important to convert those starts into big hundreds rather than thinking about targets.”

The spotlight will be on the Australian batting line-up and how they will cope in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner. But Rahane regarded Australia as the favourites.

“I feel any team that plays at home is really good and Australia are still favourites to win the series. Yes they will miss Smith and Warner but I don’t think they are vulnerable. Look at their bowling attack — they have really good bowlers. When you have to win Test matches and Test series you have to have a good bowling attack.

“Definitely Smith and Warner are quality player. But on a given day anyone can score runs. Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch are equally dangerous.”

Rahane said that irrespective of whether there is another specialist batsman after him or not, his role in the side is to bat as long as possible. https://www.telegraphindia.com/sport/aussies-begin-favourites-ajinkya-rahane/cid/1677716?ref=sport_sport-page

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