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NEW DELHI: Mumbai captain Ajinkya Rahane on Friday backed middle-order Shreyas Iyer to overcome the contractual turmoil and deliver a strong performance for the team in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Tamil Nadu, starting in Mumbai on Saturday.
Both Shreyas and Jharkhand’s Ishan Kishan were excluded from the annual central contracts as they had missed their respective teams’ Ranji matches, which violated the BCCI‘s regulations.
Shreyas was absent during Mumbai’s quarterfinal against Baroda, citing back pain.
“He’s an experienced player. His contribution has been amazing whenever he turned up for Mumbai. We are thrilled to have him in our team for the semifinal,” Rahane told the media here at the BKC Ground.
Rahane said Shreyas would not require any extra motivation to do well for Mumbai against TN.
“I don’t think he needs any encouragement or advice. He has always contributed with the bat for Mumbai, and him being around other players in the dressing room will also help the team’s cause,” said Rahane.
However, Rahane himself is waging a personal battle after scoring just 115 runs from six matches at an average of 12.77 with a lone fifty.
But the 35-year-old did not read much into those anaemic numbers.
“It’s just a phase and you have to respect it (not scoring runs). When you’re batting well and scoring runs, it happens consistently. There’s nothing wrong with my batting. I just have to remain positive and back my game and instinct,” he said.
Rahane said he needed to bat freely to get back into his run-scoring ways.
“I just have to go out there and play freely. I feel as a player you have to be confident and respect a phase, move forward and learn whatever you can. You don’t want to go too far ahead,” he added.
Rahane confirmed that opener Prithvi Shaw has recovered from a finger injury which had forced him to bat in the middle-order during the quarterfinal.
“His finger was hurt, that’s why he came down the order. We wanted him to go before Musheer (Khan). But obviously, because of the injection’s effect, he had to go after him,” Rahane said.
Rahane hoped that Shaw, who has made 389 runs from four matches at an average of 64.83, would find his A game against Tamil Nadu.
“Prithvi is really aggressive and he gets those runs very quickly. As a batsman, I don’t think he (has) changed much. He’s hungry to score runs. That’s what we want from Prithvi. We don’t want him to change his game,” Rahane said.
He said Mumbai will adopt a pressure-free approach in this game.
“We are playing really well. We don’t want to think about the quarterfinal, semifinal or final. It is just another game for us. If we can do that and be in the moment as a team and individuals, it will help us,” Rahane noted.
Rahane was obviously pleased with the hundreds Tanush Kotian and Tushar Deshpande, the No 10 and 11, made in the last outing and said such efforts will add a lot of meat to the whole batting unit.
“Everyone is working really hard, especially the bowlers, with their batting. I think when No. 8, 9, 10, 11, contribute with the bat, it becomes really crucial for the team.
Those guys have worked really hard throughout the season on their batting, you know, those extra 15-20 minutes after they bowl (at nets). It’s paying off.”
Rahane said Kotian has the potential to become an all-rounder.
“I’m happy for Tanush because earlier he has made those crucial 70s, 80s and 90s. But I think the hundred he got is a benchmark (for him). He has the calibre to become a good all-rounder,” Rahane signed off.
(With inputs from PTI)


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