‘Those 40-50 minutes…’ – Ajinkya Rahane focused on getting the twilight game right


Unlike with the red ball, the pace of pink ball goes up when the lights come on, says the India vice-captain

India captain Virat Kohli has often spoken about not losing focus and having that one awful session that loses you a Test. He didn’t mean sessions where the opposition had kept you under pressure for long periods and then reaped the rewards. He meant when India had largely been in control of the game and then given it all up in one quick burst.

The two clearest examples were Durban 2013-14 and Brisbane 2014-15. On both occasions, India had won the toss and looked in control in the first innings. In Durban, they went from 198 for 1 to 199 for 4 – and then eventually bowled out for 334 to lose the Test – against reverse swing. In Brisbane, they scored 400-plus in the first innings, got off to a good start in the second, looked set to save the Test, and then an injury in the nets kickstarted a collapse on the fourth morning to lose them the Test.

Since then, India haven’t really had such standout poor sessions out of nowhere, but the many variables in a day-night Test bring about the possibility of one. Vice-captain – and captain-elect for the last three Tests – Ajinkya Rahane has called for increased focus all the time during the day-night Test because it can be like playing two entirely different innings. If the set batsmen lose their way in the twilight period, it can be extremely difficult for the new batsmen to start an innings, which is a recipe for collapses.

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