Rohit strongly indicated that another turner awaits both teams in the final Test in Ahmedabad from March 9 and his logic to play on spinning wickets is simple. The team has won 15 straight series at home and remains favourites to win the ongoing one having already retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
Speaking to media shortly after India’s nine-wicket thrashing at the hands of Australia in Indore on a pitch that turned square from the first hour, Rohit said, “Before every series we usually decide what kind of pitches we would like to play on. It was our call to play on pitches like these. I don’t think we are putting pressure on the batters. When we win all seems well. We are not asked about our batting.”
“It is talked about when we lose. We have decided to play on pitches like these, and we know we can be challenged, but we are ready for that. Honestly the pitch talk is getting too much, every time we play in India focus is only on the pitch. We focus too much on the pitch in India. I don’t think that is necessary,” Rohit added.
Rohit Sharma speaks to the media after the 3rd Test against Australia in Indore. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
‘Former players have not played on these pitches’
The surfaces in Nagpur and Delhi too attracted attention but the one in Indore copped the most flak. The ball was turning viciously in the first half hour and uneven bounce made the task tougher for the batters.
Dilip Vengsarkar, Matthew Hayden and Mark Waugh were among the former cricketers who thought the pitch was not good for Test cricket. For the third straight time, the match ended inside three days.
Staunchly defending the team’s tactics, Rohit said, “Former cricketers, I don’t think they played on pitches like these. So I don’t know honestly. Like I said, this is the kind of pitches we want to play on. This is our strength. So when you are playing at home, you always play to your strength and not worry about what people are talking about.
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“Our strength is spin bowling and batting depth. Other teams use home advantage when we travel overseas. What is wrong in that? Especially when we are getting the results.
“If we were not getting the results I would think otherwise. We are getting the results. Some batters are under pressure but that is okay. You can’t have all members of your team in good form. Few will go through a rough patch but that is okay”.
‘Matches not lasting five days outside India as well’
Former players have also argued that games not lasting five days is not good for Test cricket in the age of T20 but Rohit feels results matter more than duration of matches.
“What can I say about that, people have to play well for the game to last five days,” Rohit said when asked about games finishing early.
“Games are not lasting for five days outside India as well. Yesterday the game got over in three days in South Africa. It is about skills. People have to adapt to skills. If pitches are helping the bowlers, the batters need to try and test their skills.
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“It is not always about making sure we are playing on flat pitches and results don’t come your way. Pakistan, there were Test matches there and people said it was boring, we are making it interesting for you guys,” he said.
The India skipper had hinted that the team might simulate conditions in Ahmedabad keeping in the mind the WTC final but the loss is likely to change their plans.
India could only manage 109 and 163 in both the innings and Rohit said the batters must raise their game.
“Honesty both the innings did not go the way we would have liked to. Even in the first innings, I don’t think there was a lot happening. If you look at the dismissals we played poorly. Out of the 10 wickets may one or two where the pitch did help the bowler.
“Other than it was the skill of the bowlers who outfoxed the batsman. We played poor shots as well. The way Australia played, they got out for 197. Had they not collapsed they could have gotten to 250-75 as well which would have been a damn good score on a pitch like that.
“Lack of concentration is what I would put it to. Apply yourself and bat for as long as possible and take odd chances in the middle. Do not let bowler bowl six balls in the same spot and try and to do something different, that is something we did not do in both the innings.”
‘Learn from Pujara and Iyer’
Rohit said there was lot to learn from Cheteshwar Pujara and Shreyas Iyer who batted in contrasting styles to take the team past 150 in the second innings. Pujara mixed caution with aggression while Iyer unsettled the Australian spinners by going for an all-out attack.
“When you are playing on pitches like these you have to play the innings that Iyer played. Someone has to step out, someone has to take on the bowlers. It can’t be always that batters will get a big knock… you have to play cameos like that.
“On the other hand, you have a Pujara. Pujara being Pujara. He likes to spend time in the middle, he wants to grind it out. That his way of doing it. It doesn’t have to be the same way for everyone that is what we have spoken about. Find your own methods (to score). Whether it is number 11 or number 1.
“As long as the job gets done we are happy as a unit. The runs will not come from everyone,” that was a stern message from Rohit to fellow batters.
Australia win the Third Test by 9 wickets. #TeamIndia 🇮🇳 will aim to bounce back in the fourth and final #INDvAUS… https://t.co/1IdvikYwVA
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In the end, he heaped praise on Nathan Lyon, who took a match-winning eight wicket haul in the second innings, saying he is the best overseas spinner he has faced.
“Lyon should be at the top in my opinion. I have not played guys like Murali and Warne. Among the current crop he would be my number one overseas bowler to come and play here in India.
“He has got so much consistency in his line and length. When someone is bowling with that accuracy you have to try and do something different to score runs,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)