Just wanted to bat for long, says Ajinkya Rahane

COLOMBO: Centurion Ajinkya Rahane said that his gameplan of playing a long innings before the start of the three-match Test series worked well for him in the solitary tour game on Thursday.

Indians rode on Rahane’s unbeaten 109 to manage 314 for six at the end of the opening day’s play in the three-day practice game at the R Premadasa Stadium. Rahane’s 127-ball stay so far is laced with 11 fours and a six and he was satisfied with his first ton on Sri Lankan soil in cricketing whites.

“The ball was doing something in the middle. For any batsman the first 20-25 minutes were very crucial. So I batted carefully initially, but the intent was positive throughout,” Rahane after the first day’s play.

“After I scored 20-25 runs, I thought about playing a long innings and playing one before the Test series is very important,” he added.

Openers Shikhar Dhawan (62) and Lokesh Rahul (43) put on 108 runs for the opening stand, after which four wickets fell quickly for only 25 runs, leaving the visitors at 133 for four. Kohli (8) and Rohit Sharma (7) were both dismissed cheaply. But Rahane hung on beautifully and enjoyed the familiar conditions.

“The conditions here aren’t too different. Coming from Mumbai especially, I don’t think they were too different. But the important thing here is that whoever is set at the crease needs to bat long. That will be the key in this series on these pitches. Conditions will challenge you here and it is one for any batsman. So if you are set it is important to convert it,” he said.

“But I wasn’t looking for my hundred. Instead I was looking to stay at the crease as long as possible and play as many balls as possible. At the same time, I wanted to play positive cricket. My intent over the last one or two years has been positive wherever I have played and I wanted to continue doing that here as well,” he added.

His 134-run fifth-wicket partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara (42) was crucial and the Mumbai batsman enjoyed the stand.

“It was an important partnership given our position at that time. Pujara batted very well and he put in his time. Even in the Test series it will be important to put on such partnerships because one or two of them can change the match. So it is important for the team to get those partnerships and the momentum going,” he said.