North Sound (Antigua): Back with a bang, India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane dedicated his game-changing performance in the first Test against the West Indies to all those who have stood by him during the past two years when he went through a rough patch.
Rahane scored 81 and 102 — his first Test hundred in two years during India’s 318-run victory, which also earned him the “Man of the Match’ award. ‘This hundred was special. My time with Hampshire really helped me. I dedicate this hundred to the people who backed me, supported me when I was going through a rough patch,” Rahane said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Rahane, who had gone 17 Tests without a century in more than two years, hit his 10th Test hundred — 102 off 242 balls — in the second innings of India’s World Test Championship campaign opener. “It feels special. Getting this hundred after 29 or 30 innings. I’ve been getting 70s, but getting a 100 means a lot to me,” Rahane said after India dismissed the hosts for 100 in 26.5 overs in the second innings.
He also termed his 81 in the first innings as crucial considering the situation of the match when he went out to bat. “The first innings was crucial after 20 for 3 (25 for 3). We needed a partnership, and the partnership between Rahul and me was crucial. I think first day the wicket was damp. West Indies bowled really well in that session. But it was important to play as many balls as possible without thinking about runs,” said the 31-year-old vice-captain. “We wanted to bat 90-100 overs in the first innings knowing runs would come. In the 2nd innings, me and Virat wanted to get a good partnership. We wanted to just bat, bat and bat.”
Meanwhile, India’s pace bowling mainstay Jasprit Bumrah, who rattled the Windies top-order with a five-wicket haul, says he is always evolving to polish his craft, the latest addition to which is the outswinger that he wasn’t particularly confident of until last year.
Bumrah recently became the fastest Indian pacer to 50 Test wickets, during his six-wicket match haul, which India won by 318 runs on Sunday. “I used to bowl the inswinger earlier, but the more Test matches I’ve played, I’ve gotten more confident to bowl the outswinger, especially since England,” said Bumrah referring to the series in England last year, which India lost 1-4.
The 25-year-old has played just 11 Tests in his fast-rising career and has 55 wickets, averaging 20.63 at a brilliant economy rate of 2.64. ‘I am feeling very good. As a bowling unit, we came with attacking options. Me and Ishant (Sharma) were trying to use the (width of) crease too, to generate the swing. A lot of hardwork goes into my delivery,’ Bumrah said reflecting on his performance here.
“I am always trying to evolve,’ he said. He was rested from the limited-overs assignment in the Caribbean as per his workload management plan but Bumrah acknowledged he was slightly rusty in the opening essay of the match, which yielded just one wicket for him. ‘I was a little stiff in the first innings since I returned after a break, but things were all sorted by the second innings,’ he said. India will take on the West Indies in the second Test 30 August.