Not too concerned about missing out on century: Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane drives on his way to 81 in Antigua. (AFP Image)

Ajinkya Rahane was at the forefront of India’s revival on the opening day of the Antigua Test against West Indies on Thursday. Put to bat, India were reduced to 25/3 before a crucial partnership between Rahane and KL Rahul added stability to the innings. Rahane top scored with 81 – his gritty knock helping India finish on 203/6 – but missed out on a ninth Test century after being bowled by Shannon Gabriel

READ: Rahane helps India recover after shaky start

It’s been over two years since Rahane notched up a three-digit score in Tests – his last hundred coming against Sri Lanka in August 2017 – but it wasn’t something he is losing his sleep over.

“I knew this question was coming and I was ready. As long as I am at the crease, I am thinking about my team, I am not a selfish guy. So yes, I am not too concerned about the hundred as I thought 81 on that wicket was really crucial as we are now in a decent position,” Rahane said at stumps on Day 1.

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“See, as long as I am contributing for my team is what matters. Yes, I was thinking about my hundred but the situation we are in – 25/3 was tricky. As I have said, I just thought if I could contribute for my team. I am not too concerned about my hundred as that will come automatically.”

That India were able to post a recovery after their top three were dismissed cheaply was due to the 68-run partnership between Rahane and Rahul. At one stage, Rahane was 1 off 32 before scoring his first boundary off Jason Holder, who kept India on their toes with three maidens on the trot. Rahane brought up his fifty off 116 balls and even though the visitors lost Rahul shortly after tea, it was that fourth-wicket stand which set the base for India’s recovery.

“At the start of our innings, the wicket was tricky. It was a bit sticky (spongy bounce) and there was sideways movement. Throughout the day, they bowled pretty well,” Rahane said. “What was important was to have a partnership going and still be positive in our intent. The partnership with Rahul was crucial at that situation. We were not thinking too far ahead. The motive was to play one ball at a time and take it on from there,” Rahane said about their gameplan.”

However, it wasn’t the only notable stand of the day. After Roston Chase dismissed Rahul for 44 to snap the partnership, another association blossomed between Rahane and Hanuma Vihari as the two batsmen put on 82 runs for the fifth wicket. For Rahane, the idea was to hang in there for as long as possible since he and India were playing Test cricket after a gap of eight months.

“Vihari is a guy who has got lots of runs in Ranji Trophy and first-class cricket, and he knows how to bat in these situations. So all these guys, who play a lot of India A games know how to bat in these conditions in five-day games. So I thought Vihari’s approach was pretty good, not only here but even in Australia,” he said.

“For me, it was important as we were playing a Test match after a long time, nearly seven months (vs Australia in January) and I wanted to hang in there, play as many balls possible and take my team to good position.”