Rohit Sharma had a tremendous series against Sri Lanka in December last year. Not only he scored a century in Test cricket, but also smacked his third double century in ODIs, becoming the only cricketer to do so. His reputation was alleviated after he scored a 35-ball century in the T20I against Sri Lanka. Because of his resounding form, he became the first choice for the team. But the right-handed batsman failed to perform with the bat in the two Tests he played, and then also got out cheaply in the first four ODIs, scoring a total of just 40 runs. But the opening batsman announced his return to form after he scored his 17th ODI century in the 5th ODI at Port Elizabeth as India defeated South Africa by 73 runs to seal series 4-1.
Speaking to reporters after the match, the 30-year-old said, “I got out in three (four) matches only brother, how can you say form is bad after three (four) matches? You guys put people in good form after one match, and if somebody doesn’t have three good matches, you say he is in bad form.”
Rohit, who was declared Man-of-the-Match for scoring 115 runs in the match, added he was batting well at the nets and was in a good frame of mind. “I admit the first three matches weren’t great but that happens with everybody. But I was in a good frame of mind, I was batting well in the nets and there was no pattern to my dismissals. That happens in every cricketer’s career,” he said.
Sharma added that 2-3 bad innings do not make someone a bad player. “Because you have achieved so much, scored so many runs, 2-3 bad innings doesn’t change that,” he said. “Because every day is a new day and what you have done in the past. It is the same thing I am thinking right now. My hundred has gone now and the next game I play, the hundred I scored isn’t going to matter much,” he said.
The right-hand batsman continued to pace his innings in a calm fashion in spite of skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane getting run out on the other end. Sharma said he was not in the mood to celebrate his century because of the dismissals. “Celebration… yaar (friend) two guys got run out before me earlier so there was nothing to celebrate about. I was not in mood to celebrate. But I knew that if we could get 270-280 it will be difficult for them because we knew the wicket is very slow and anything could happen as our wrist spinners are bowling very well and they have troubled their batsmen a lot. So we knew that 270-280 was a good chance to win.”
The batsman also praised allrounder Hardik Pandya who took two crucial wickets of AB de Villiers and JP Duminy and was also responsible for getting Hashim Amla run out which turned the tide of the match in their favour. “It was very important to win with five bowlers. It will give a lot of confidence to those guys. Hardik has come a long way since he made his debut. He understands what the team expects of him. He is a proper all-rounder. Not a batsman who can bowl or a bowler who can bat, we expect him to come out and bowl 10 overs all the time,” he said.
With the victory at St George’s Park, India registered their first series victory in South Africa. “After 25 years we have won a series in South Africa. Not the easiest place to play cricket, definitely not the easiest place to win a series. I think a lot of credit [goes] to the boys. Everybody who got an opportunity put his hand up and took up the challenge. If you look at the entire ODI series, it was a dominant performance for us,” Sharma said.
Speaking about the final ODI of the series at Centurion on Friday, Sharma said India will continue to look for a win. “We will approach that game in the same manner that we have approached the last five games. It is important to keep doing the right things because it doesn’t happen in South Africa that you are 4-1 up and we will definitely try to make it 5-1 at Centurion,” he said.