It’s been a running question over the last 10 days,ever since India landed in South Africa. One that Mahendra Singh Dhoni has had to deal with every time hes walked in for a press conference. Did India enter the ODI series under-cooked? Have they been pitiable so far because they didnt get enough time to acclimatise?
So far,Dhoni has gone on to defend that opinion,though not directly. On Tuesday,it was opener Rohit Sharmas turn to talk about Indias preparation. And the Mumbai right-hander was prudent in his response.
He insisted that there was no excuse for the poor performance that the Indian batting unit had dished out during the first two ODIs. Sharma,who has had to deal with a fired-up Dale Steyn with the new-ball on both occasions,even went on to say that he and his colleagues had messed up in familiar climes at Kingsmead in Durban.
There is no excuse for being short on match practice or something. We have been playing continuously in the last three months or so. But yes,we just need to be aware of our shot selection. Conditions were similar to India in Durban. Yes,there was a bit of bounce,but as a batsman you need to understand that you are playing in South Africa, he said.
While Sharma couldnt lay his bat to ball at the Wanderers against Steyn for close to three overs,he did survive the potent burst from the South African pace mainstay before being unfortunately run-out. He was under the pump again in Durban but he even managed to pick a few runs off Steyn,before falling in tame fashion while attempting a pull-shot against Lonwabo Tsotsobe. But Sharma believed that his strategy of playing for time and seeing off the likes of Steyn and Morne Morkel had somewhat worked in Johannesburg.
It is important initially to play straight here,and then later on when you have assessed the conditions,once you are in and you know what is happening,you can play your shots. Then its probably the best place to bat, said Sharma.
Despite the brickbats that have come their way,especially in terms of their struggles abroad,he also insisted that they werent pushovers in foreign lands. This despite the 100 plus margins of defeats in the series. Sharma was insistent that the Indians were still capable of coping up against the likes of Steyn and Morkel.
The ball swings here a little more than in India. We played in England,we played in the West Indies. The conditions there werent similar to India. The shot selection is very important here. I dont think there is anything else to be worried about, he said.
He also made it a point to defend the Indian bowlers,regardless of their poor showing on tour. In a way,he also revealed the dipping standards that he and the rest of the batting line-up have set for the bowling unit,especially when you think of the gargantuan totals that they have conceded in recent times.
In Durban,I think the bowlers bowled really well. It was 280 we were set to chase. I thought they bowled really well there, he said.
The third ODI in Centurion might be a dead rubber but the opener admitted that there was a lot at stake on how India went on Wednesday. Of course we are here to compete and not have fun and just look around South Africa. Since the day we arrived here we wanted to provide a point, said Sharma.
With only one international match left before the Indians head to the much-vaunted Test series,it might be high time that Sharma and the Indian top order did prove a point.