India batting coach Vikram Rathour has backed struggling Ajinkya Rahane to come good in the next match, saying time has not come yet to worry about his form and he is just going through a tough phase. Day 4 Highlights | Scorecard | News
The Indian middle order, especially vice-captain Rahane, hasn't been firing, but Rathour said there is no reason to worry.
"...when you are playing cricket for such a long time, you will have phases, where you will not get runs, and that is the time as a team we need to back them and support them as much as we can," he said during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
"We saw with Pujara also, him getting more opportunities and he has come back and played couple of very important innings for us.
"So, we are hoping that Ajinkya will get back into form and he will still play a major role in the Indian team's batting so, I don't think we have arrived to that point where it should become a concern."
Asked whether Rahane was facing technical issues or it was a mental block, Rathour said, "When you are playing such an important series like this one and when you are playing in conditions which are tough for batting, we are playing against such a disciplined bowling attack which is bowling well, as a batting unit, technique is the last thing we should be thinking."
Rathour said the team was a bit distracted going into day four of the fourth Test after head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for COVID-19.
The BCCI medical team had isolated Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar, and physiotherapist Nitin Patel as a precautionary measure after the head coach's lateral flow test returned positive on Saturday evening.
"Of course, we are missing them massively. Ravi Bhai, B Arun and R Shridar, they have been extremely important part of this set up and they have done extremely well in the last five-six years and played a major role in the team doing well," Rathour said.
India was in a commanding position after scoring 466 in the second essay, courtesy a memorable hundred by Rohit Sharma and equally important knocks by Cheteshwar Pujara, Shardul Thakur and Rishabh Pant.
"But this is what it is. That's the fact that they are not here. So, it was in the morning, I think, a bit of a distraction, we had a word, we spoke, and decided that we need to focus on what is in hand, which is cricket," said Rathour.
"...it is an extremely important series that we are playing and today when we came in the morning, it was an extremely important day for us, to focus on cricket. So, I think the boys did extremely well, to not get distracted.
"There was a potential that we can be distracted from the situation that happened last night, but a lot of credit goes to the boys, the way they handled themselves and the way we played as a team."
The batting coach said that Shastri felt a bit of discomfort on Saturday after which the test was conducted.
"...it was last night around 8 in the night. He was having little bit of discomfort yesterday, so the medical team decided to go for a lateral-pro test and it came positive and that is when we heard that he is positive.
"I think, the close contacts were identified and isolated, so we will wait for the medical team on when they can join back," he added.
Rathour also had words of praise for Shardul Thakur, who hit fifties in both the innings and said he can play a big role in Indian cricket.
"Very impressive. We all knew that he (Shardul) could bat, he is somebody who works hard on his batting, and his biggest asset is temperament, the kind of confidence that he carries with his batting and the kind of body language he has, so very impressive.
"He (Shardul) is just into his fourth or fifth test match and he has already played three important innings in this short span itself, that tells you he has the ability and he can play a big role in Indian cricket in coming times," said the batting coach.
He also said the knock played by Rishabh Pant was "out of character".
"The knock he (Pant) played was little-bit out of character, he really approached the innings really well, played with lot of discipline so, we always know that he has the ability and he can bring in this ability into forefront and play differently in different situations, that will do well for him and for the Indian team as well," he said. ATK