India in England: Cheteshwar Pujara and I are not concerned about criticism, says Ajinkya Rahane

India’s vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane played down concerns over his and Cheteshwar Pujara’s form, saying both of them are experienced to handle pressure at the biggest of all stages. Rahane said people only talk about important people and he is not bothered by the outside noise.

Speaking to the press 2 days ahead of the 3rd Test between India and England at Headingley, Rahane said both he and Pujara are focused on getting the job done for the team.

Rahane and Pujara have been under considerable pressure after a string of low scores in Tests. After failing to trouble the scores much in the home series against England, the two senior batters failed to step up in the World Test Championship final. They both got out for single-digit scores in the first Test against England in Nottingham. However, the two batsmen came up with a crucial hundred-run stand in the 2nd Test at Lord’s which India went on to win by 151 runs.

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“I am happy people are talking about me, I always believe people talk about important people. I am not too concerned about that, it’s all about contribution for the team. Cheteshwar and I have been playing for long, we know how to handle pressure in certain situations,” Rahane said.

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“We are not concerned about them, we are focusing on the team. We just want to contribute for the side, whatever we cannot control, we are not thinking about that.

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“Everything motivates me, playing for my country motivates me a lot. I am not bothered about criticism. People only criticise important people, I only focus on the controllables. Team performance is the ultimate goal,” Rahane said.

‘Pujara’s innings at Lord’s was very important’

Rahane’s 61 in the 2nd innings of the Lord’s Test was crucial to India as they had lost openers Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli early. Rahane and Pujara added 100 for the 4th wicket. Pujara managed 45 runs but batted time, staying in the middle for 206 balls.

Rahane said his 61 gave him a lot of satisfaction and highlighted that Pujara’s knock in the 2nd Test was very crucial.

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“My innings was really satisfying in the second Test, I always believe in contributions and for me, I always think about the team. That knock of 61 in the Lord’s Test was really satisfying. It was all about hanging in there, communication was all about thinking small targets and building on from there,” he said.

“We always talk about Pujara playing slow, but his innings was important, he batted for 200 balls. We backed each other, I thought communication was really good. We knew 170-180 could have been a very good score on the wicket.”

After having scripted a remarkable victory at Lord’s, India will be eyeing an unbeatable 2-0 lead when the two teams meet at Headingley from Wednesday.

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