Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday admitted that his team will miss pace bowler Ishant Sharma but did not answer questions regarding team combination in the day-night Test against Australia starting on Thursday. Rahane can captain the remaining three Tests after skipper Virat Kohli’s return to home on Paternity Leave after the first Test. He also spoke about the challenge faced by the bowlers at the increased speed of the pink ball.
Rahane said, ‘We have a strong attack but we will miss Ishant. He is the senior most fast bowler. Ishant was injured in the rib during the IPL. Rahane, however, expressed confidence that the fast bowlers led by Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami would do well in the absence of Ishant. He said, ‘Umesh, Saini, Siraj, Bumrah and Shami are all good bowlers and have experience. They know how to bowl here.
We can bowl 20 wickets
He said, ‘This is the new series which will start with pink ball. It is necessary to achieve rhythm. I believe our bowlers can take 20 wickets. Asked about the opening pair, Rahane said that a decision will be taken on the eve of the match. India has options for Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill and KL Rahul. Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha have options for wicketkeeping.
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Rahane said, ‘The team combination has not been decided yet. We will be meeting and then have another day and practice session. It will then be discussed. All are equally talented and all have the ability to win matches for us. It is a matter of trusting the players. He also did not give any concrete answer as to what the role of senior spinner R Ashwin would be but said that his all-round skills would be of great use in the first Test.
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He said, ‘Ashwin’s role is very important. He is an experienced bowler and has variety. His role as a bowler and batsman is very important. The pink ball is a very important session during the day of the Test and a lot of preparation is being done on it. Rahane said that during that 40 to 50 minutes the speed of the ball becomes very fast. He said, ‘The speed of the new pink ball becomes very fast at sunset. In such a situation, it is difficult for the batsmen to focus.
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He said, “There is no sudden change in speed when we play with the red ball all day but the speed suddenly changes within 40-50 minutes with the pink ball. It is necessary to adjust the time properly.” He said about the preparations, ‘Quarantine was challenging, especially the first 14 days but luckily we got a concession and we could practice. Our preparation is good and practice matches helped a lot.