India tour of South Africa: Rahane in a ‘good space’, says head coach Dravid

It has been an incredibly challenging year for Ajinkya Rahane. The India batter has averaged just 19.75 in the last 21 innings and also missed out on the last Test against New Zealand due to an injury.

But even then, the Indian team management has shown faith in the seasoned campaigner. And ahead of India’s Test series against South Africa, which begins on Sunday, the team’s head coach Rahul Dravid believes that Rahane is in a ‘good space’.

โ€œConversation with Ajinkya Rahane has been very positive and very good. He has trained very good this week and practised really well. It’s been no different to actually any conversation with most of the players. He seems to be in a really good spaceโ€ฆโ€ Dravid said on Saturday.

Dravid also believes that the tour of South Africa will be a challenge for the team and it is important to put the best foot forward in Centurion. โ€œThis is our first sort of challenge away from home. So it’s really an important series from that perspective to try and put our best foot forward and make some good cricket. Obviously, in the larger scheme of things, it counts for World Test Championship points. So that’s, that’s a goal as well. Obviously not not immediate, but in the in the long term thatโ€™s also something that you got to keep in the back of your mind,โ€ Dravid said.

โ€œHopefully, we want to keep improving. We want to keep getting better as a group. Virat (Kohli) has played a huge role in that. As a player, as a leader and as a captain, he has been fantastic. Certainly looking forward to him carrying that forward and really pushing and challenging this team. Heโ€™s been one of those players who really loves Test cricket and looks forward to Test cricket and really wants to compete and play. And hopefully he has a great series and you know, that will really benefit the team as well,โ€ the head coach said, making it clear that it will be an important Test series for captain Kohli, who has not been among runs.

The Indian team has not played any tour game in South Africa due to Omicron fears, but Dravid admitted that the team has trained really hard over the last few days.

โ€œIn the past when India has done well in a series, generally you had a good lead in time in terms of preparation leading into the series or particularly leading into the first Test match. Honestly, that’s just the nature of the way things are at the moment. In the kind of situation we are working with also with the kind of COVID situations that we have in the quarantines and the bubbles, ย it’s not always easy to get exactly what you want. But I think the team’s responded really well,โ€ Dravid said.

โ€œWe’ve had some really good quality practice over the last week. We have two good really good centre wicket net sessions, probably the next best thing to having a dog him but we’ve really worked hard and we’ve trained hard over the weekend. In terms of the conditions we couldn’t have asked for anything more. The bowlers are really running hard. We’ve been able to balance that out with the fitness work that they required to do as well. We are ready and we are prepared.โ€

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