India respect Afghanistan as opponents, but are going to focus on their strengths and positives rather than worry about the opposition, said the India captain.
India’s challenge ahead of Afghanistan’s maiden Test in Bengaluru, starting Thursday, 14 June, is to get back to the groove of the five-day game, Ajinkya Rahane, the captain for the match, has said.
India’s last Test was in January, when they won against South Africa in Johannesburg to end the red-ball leg of their tour 1-2. Since then, many of the players have been involved in the Indian Premier League, playing Twenty20 cricket.
Rahane, who is taking over the reins of the team in the absence of an injured Virat Kohli, said the practice sessions in Bengaluru were “fantastic” for the team.
“After coming back from the IPL, it’s important that we train our mind rather than skills, because getting back to Test cricket after T20 is all about tuning your mind rather than focussing on your skills,” he told presspersons on the eve of the match on Wednesday.
In a country where war has affected so many, cricket has emerged as a source of happiness.— ICC (@ICC) June 13, 2018
How did the sport find a place in the heart of the Afghans? Here's a look back at a remarkable journey. 👇https://t.co/mJ5be3Z0vx pic.twitter.com/Wl9jow6snM
Describing it as an “honour” to be part of “a big moment for Afghanistan cricket”, he insisted the No.1 team on the MRF Tyres ICC Test team rankings were not taking the challenge lightly. At the same time, the team’s focus was on themselves rather than their opponents, he said.
“We are going to focus on our strengths and our positives, without thinking about Afghanistan. Yes, we respect them as an opponent, but it’s important for all of us to go out there and give more than 100%.”
Rahane also refused to get drawn into the debate about which team’s spinners are better.
“Every member of a team, they always believe their team is good, that their bowling attack and their batting is better. But for us, we all know the stats, but we don’t focus on stats; it’s important that in Test cricket throughout the five days every session matters a lot. It is important that you do your best all the time.
“Our spinners, Kuldeep (Yadav), (Ravichandran) Ashwin or (Ravindra) Jadeja, they are all experienced, they are quality spinners, they back each other, they enjoy bowling with each other even in the nets and in the match.
“On that given day it’s important what your mindset is and how to handle pressure.”