Mumbai: India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has claimed that being in and out of the team in the shorter formats of the game hasn't affected him and he is ready to play his part in the Test series, when the team locks horns against England in the 5-match series starting August 1.
In an exclusive interview to Cricketnext, Rahane said that his preparations have gone well ahead of the series and is confident of doing well in England despite not being able to seal a spot in other formats.
"I have been practicing with Praveen Amre sir and took the help of bowling machines. I have done some practice with the tennis balls as well as with half tennis and half rubber balls, which help in tackling swinging deliveries — both incoming and outgoing," Rahane told Cricketnext.
"The conditions there help the ball move a bit — depending upon the weather. If it is cloudy, the ball moves a bit and if it’s sunny then the wickets are pretty good to bat on. I want to cover each and every aspect of batting, so that I am able to tackle any type of condition which we will be facing in England and do well there," he added.
Rahane once again failed to seal a spot in both ODI and T20I teams for India in the ongoing series against England. When asked about his absence affecting him, Rahane said that he still believes he can make a comeback in both the formats as he has done well in the past whenever he has gotten a chance to do so. Rahane also said that such a phase comes in every cricketer's life and the idea is to believe in one's own ability, rather on focusing on things that are not in their control.
"I don’t think that this (being left out of the ODI and T20I squads) is affecting me. The important thing is to believe in your abilities. I am aware of my capabilities and how good I am. It is all about believing in yourselves, rather than thinking about things that are not in your control," Rahane said.
"It is part and parcel of a professional cricketer’s life. I know I can make a comeback and I have really done well in the shorter formats in the past. I think, right now, the important thing is to practice hard and go out there and enjoy myself. For me, it is important to serve my country, be it any format. It is important to contribute to my team’s cause and do well for my country."
The Indian cricket team landed merely few days ahead of the first Test against South Africa earlier this year and that, in a way, hindered their performance in the series. However, such is not the case this time as before the all-important Test series, India were scheduled to play two T20I against Ireland, followed by three T20Is and three ODIs against England. Rahane feels that with the core of the team already familiarising themselves with the conditions by playing in the shorter formats, it will help the team during the Test series.
"Most of the guys are already there and I think getting used to the conditions there is very important. I am also playing an India 'A' game there and after that we will play a practice match on 25th," Rahane said.
"So, I think two matches before the first Test will boost our confidence. I always believe that whenever we go to play in other countries, if we are familiar with the conditions before the first day of the Test, then we are in good shape."
Rahane also gave a sneak peek into the minds of the players as to what they really think about the Yo-Yo fitness test. The results of the Yo-Yo test created ripples last month after Sanju Samson, Mohammed Shami and Ambati Rayudu failed the test and were dropped from the respective teams. More recently, before the Indian team boarded the flight to England, coach Ravi Shastri made it clear that it is compulsory to pass the said test in order to gain a place into the squad. Talking about its benefit, Rahane said that the players have embraced it considering the long-term benefits of the much-talked about test.
"They (Indian cricketers) are all prepared for it (Yo-Yo test). The culture right now in the team is to focus on fitness. We have been playing so many matches, it is only good for the players," said Rahane.
"If you have the cricketing skills and your fitness is up to the mark, you can go miles. Our intention is to make the team number 1 in the world, in all the formats. We believe that whatever fitness test is happening, it is really good for the team."