"It’s important to give your 100% even in the nets." © AFP

“It’s important to give your 100% even in the nets.” © AFP

Ajinkya Rahane said he wasn’t concerned by lack of big scores in his two Ranji Trophy outings for Mumbai this season in the lead-up to the Test series against Sri Lanka. Rahane, who notched up fifty-plus scores in each of his last four One-Day International innings, was drafted into the Mumbai side for matches against Odisha and Baroda, and finished with scores of 49, 0, 0 and 45.

Ahead of the first of three Tests against Sri Lanka starting in Kolkata on Thursday, Rahane said he used those matches as practice for the bigger challenges ahead.

“I’m not too concerned (about not converting starts),” said Rahane on Tuesday (November 14). “I’ve been batting well, got four fifties in a row in ODIs. I got out on 49 and 45 in Ranji Trophy, but for me it was important to play as many balls as possible and get that practice for Tests. 40-50 runs also matter a lot for a team, and in the last game in Mumbai (against Baroda), that one point was also very crucial for us so I just wanted face as many balls as possible. I’m not too worried about the scores.”

During the practice session at the Eden Gardens, several Indian batsmen including Rahane faced short balls and practised reverse-sweeps against the spinners. The Indian Test vice-captain said it was a part of the constant evolution in his batting.

“It’s important to improve your game, it’s important to evolve by practising,” he said. “I always think that if I improve one shot in the net session, then I’ll be better off when an opportunity arises during the game. I’m just practising all types of shots – sweeps, reverse-sweeps, paddle-sweeps as options. I think it’s important to give your 100% even in the nets.”

India had toured Sri Lanka for a full series in July, where they won the three-match Test series 3-0, two of them by an innings. India also whitewashed Sri Lanka in the following ODI series 5-0 and won the only Twenty20 International, but Rahane insisted that they were not taking the visitors lightly.

“This series is completely different from what we played last time. We know the conditions well, but we are not taking Sri Lanka lightly, though we had a good series there. Every match and every series is important for us before going to South Africa. We just want to play our game rather than thinking about their strategies and combinations.”

With tours to South Africa, England and Australia lined up next year, the threat of injuries to players, especially pacers, is real. The Indian selectors and the team management have been addressing the workload-management issue by resting key players from time to time, especially in white-ball cricket. The issue gained attention when Hardik Pandya pulled out of the Test series against Sri Lanka.

Rahane maintained that the players and the management were making efforts to strike a balance. “It is important to manage yourself as a professional athlete. Recovery is as much important as training.

“So we focus on our recovery sessions as well with ice bath, pool sessions, massages. The team management is taking care of all these aspects. It is important to take care of yourself with adequate recovery because we have so many matches lined up in the future.”