India vs England: Ajinkya Rahane backs India batting, blames Cheteshwar Pujara for run out

India’s first innings capitulation in the Lord’s Test in demanding conditions on Friday was due to England’s masterful swing bowling led by James Anderson rather than the visiting team’s batting shortcomings, Ajinkya Rahane said on Friday. (MATCH REPORT) (DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS)

England exploited dream seaming conditions to rout India for 107 in 37.2 overs after rain washed out play on Thursday and led to five hours being lost on Day 2.

After being dismissed for 274 and 162 in the first Test at Edgbaston, they hit a fresh low. India lost both openers in the brief first phase, Cheteshwar Pujara was run out in the second before the batting came unhinged on resumption in the evening.

No 8 Ravichandran Ashwin top-scored with 29 while skipper Virat Kohli fell for 23. Anderson took 5/20 as England pacers exposed Indian batsmen’s weaknesses against swing and seam.

“First of all, England bowled really well. They used the conditions really well. The wicket (was tough) because of the weather, which we cannot control. First half, when the game was on and off, it was difficult for the batting team to switch on and off,” he told reporters.

“But when you play at the highest level, no excuses. I would like to give credit to the English bowling team – James Anderson, Stuart Broad, they bowled really well as a unit.”

Virat Kohli was the saving grace in Edgbaston, scoring 149 and 51, but once he fell at the team score of 49, the writing was on the wall.

Kohli’s poor call also led to Cheteshwar Pujara’s run out when the No 3, recalled to the side, was seeing off the new ball, making one run off 25 deliveries.

The India vice-captain suggested it was Pujara’s mistake.

“I’m sure even Pujara will be upset about his run out. See, you accept your mistake. Acceptance is the key, I think, when you play in England. It’s not about getting caught behind, even run out; you got to accept your mistake and move on. The quicker we learn from our mistakes, the better for us.”

Rahane was confident India’s bowlers will deliver if the ball swung or the pitch dried up, after India surprisingly picked chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav as second spinner, dropping fast bowler Umesh Yadav.

“You cannot be too harsh on yourself when you get conditions like this. You got to back yourself as a player and team,” said Rahane.

“I felt we were right there mentally, also skill-wise. But Anderson was really good. He bowled in the right areas. He didn’t bowl one short delivery. But it is still a long way to go in the match.”

Rahane defended India’s batsmen, who have, barring Kohli, flopped in three innings in a row. India struggled in 2011 when they were routed 4-0, and in 2014, when they lost 1-3.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong. Just because you don’t get any runs or any start, that doesn’t mean your methods are wrong. It’s a five-match series and it’s a long way to go,” he said. “We’ve to forget about this innings. We have to go and bowl well, get them out and bat well again.

“Still, you need luck in these conditions. As a batsman you need luck. No complaints at all. Tomorrow is another day – we have to bowl and field well.”

But Kuldeep over Umesh Yadav in seaming conditions?

“The answer to your question will be I feel when Kuldeep gets four-five wickets tomorrow, it’ll be completely different. It’s about what captain and coach think. In the end, it’s the captain’s decision. I felt Virat is backing Kuldeep and we’ll have to wait and see.

“Because of the conditions, definitely yeah, it helped fast bowlers. But Kuldeep is a quality bowler. Umesh bowled really well, but it’s about combination and it’s about what captain and coach think.”