India are aiming to play “fearless cricket” when they face the Black Caps tomorrow night for the World Test Championship crown, batsman Ajinkya Rahane said.
The 33-year-old has been a key component in getting India to the final at Southampton, scoring 1,095 runs at a 43.80 average in the inaugural tournament, to be the team’s highest run-scorer.
Heading into the game, Rahane said India are focussed on playing their natural style while respecting what the Black Caps will bring to the match.
"We just want to take this as just another game, play it as just another game. What is important for us is to start well, we know New Zealand are a very good team," said Rahane.
"We don't want to take them lightly and as a team, we have been doing so well and we just want to continue what we've been doing over the last two years, play one day, one session at a time.
"Our planning, our strategies will be completely different from when we last played against England here in Southampton [in 2018], the plan was different that time.
"We just want to take this as just another game. We don't want to put ourselves under pressure especially playing a Test match after a long time now.
"I think what is important in this Test match is playing with freedom, playing fearless cricket as a team and backing each other. That will really help us rather than thinking about the result.
"As long as we're backing ourselves and following our processes and playing our natural game as an individual and as a team, that will matter a lot."
The last time India played at Southampton, they suffered a 60-run defeat to England in 2018.
Rahane said he hopes his experience with the venue comes in handy but knows the only match that will count on the day is the one he’s in.
"I have played at this venue many times now, I've played for Hampshire also here, so I do know the conditions well, but what is important is to be in the moment, be in the present," he added.
"I just adjust to the conditions on that particular day so being the highest run-scorer doesn't matter for me now, like I said whatever happened was in the past."
The last time the two sides met in the five-day format, the Black Caps defeated India in back-to-back Tests at home as part of the current WTC cycle at the beginning of 2020.