Rohit Sharma was included in the playing XI for the second Test against Sri Lanka only because India had gone in with six specialist batsmen. For more than a year now, thanks to injuries and India’s batting line-up, Rohit has been out of the Indian team. But he made a comeback into the team for the Nagpur Test and scored his third hundred. He is now happy that he got the opportunity to put some runs at the same ground where he was about to make his Test debut seven years ago but was replaced at last moment when he got injured in the practice session.
“Personally for me, it was very important as I was playing Test cricket after nearly 500 days,” Rohit said. “I have been waiting for this opportunity and I am glad that I could put some runs on the board for myself and the team. Really happy that it was worth waiting for so long.
“I clearly remember this was the ground where I got injured and I had to wait three years to make my Test debut. This ground has now given me something now to go back with. Very happy and pleased with the way we played.”
Rohit, in his last five innings, has scored three fifties and a hundred. Three of these innings have been unbeaten. But he admitted that he put himself under a lot of pressure to perform in Test cricket.
“My plans are simple and clear. I don’t want to complicate things, which I have done in the past,” he explained. “When I came into the team, I just thought too much about it and gave too much importance. At the end of the day, it’s just a cricket match that you have to play, (so) don’t worry about anything else. Initially my focus was so much on Test cricket – “oh no, this is Test cricket, I have to do well, I have to do this and that”. In thinking that, I lost a lot of focus and forgot what I was there for and what I needed to do.”
India will travel to South Africa for a three-match Test series in January but Rohit seems to be the most likely batsman to be dropped from the playing XI if India opt to go back to the five bowler theory. He has played only 22 Tests so far but has no regrets.
“There will always be regrets in your life. Even if you score 10,000 runs, you will feel, “oh, I should have scored 15,000 runs”. Or people will tell you, “you should have scored 15,000 runs, man”,” he said. “So that’s what it is. That’s what this world is and that’s what we’re living in. But for me I’m glad that I’m back on my feet, because when I went through that injury (last year), at one point I was thinking whether I’ll be able to walk or not, because the injury was very bad. I’m lucky that I’m on my feet, playing and scoring some runs, so yes, I’m happy. I’m not someone who will think about what has happened in the past. I like to see what is in front of me, and that is how I look at it,” he said.
Earlier, he would think a lot about not getting picked for the Test team. At the beginning of his career, Rohit was picked for India’s Test team but had to wait for a long time to get a game. But that is not the case now. He thinks more about what lies ahead.
“When I was inexperienced, when I just came into the team, there were a lot of things that I used to think about, but not anymore. I’ve passed that age and I shouldn’t be thinking what happened in the past. I should be ready for what is coming next, because that’s what matters. What has happened in the past is gone – you can never change it. For me, I can change things looking forward, and looking forward means the Delhi Test match and thereafter the one-day series and then the South Africa series.”
That South Africa series would be the beginning India’s many overseas tours. Rohit explained how the bowlers are gearing up for that and why the things they are doing now will be crucial in South Africa.
“The last home season was a great eye opener for all the bowlers,” Rohit said. “Playing on slow pitches is never easy, I feel, and then to come out victorious and put on some match-winning performances was really pleasing to see. The last 13 matches we played in India, I think, there was a huge contribution from the bowling unit as well. That has given them confidence moving forward.
“Now, when we go and play abroad, the confidence is there. All these guys, they have worked closely, and they have started to work on their technique and think more on their strategies and all. Like I said, in Test cricket, you have to get wickets, people don’t give you wickets. You have to plan for that and I think the focus of these bowlers has been more on that particular aspect – how to get a batsman out and what works for them and what doesn’t.
“Sometimes there might be a session where you will find it tough but what do you do in that particular moment. It’s important to keep it tight, and keep that holding thing going on and create that pressure. So I think they have learned that in the last two years of Test-match cricket where they have played. When we went to South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and England before, these guys were a little inexperienced and now they have come of age. They exactly know their bowling which is the most important thing for any cricketer, to know their game.”
After all the difficulties in his Test career, Rohit is now ready for any challenge. Though he gets limited opportunity to play, Rohit keeps himself ready to not only play the game but perform and deliver.
“When you get an opportunity you have to be more than ready, not just ready, to play the game and deliver the goods, what your captain and coach expect from you, and the team,” he said. “So when I was in Sri Lanka and before that, you never know that you’re going to be guaranteed your place in the XI. You’ve got to keep working at it, and try and figure out a way when you are in the middle, how you’re going to be destructive and make an impact on that particular game.
“So my focus was purely on those particular aspects and we’ve got a good set of coaches to help us go through all that. It really depends on the captain and the coach what combination they want and what they’re comfortable with. Every member of the side understands that, and they are 100% and completely backing them to make the right decision, and whatever decision they make is in favour of the team.
“In the last series that we played against Sri Lanka, we played with five bowlers. First game here we played with five, now we played with six (batsmen). So you know, every now and then we’ll have this combination change – there will be six batsmen playing at times, there will be five bowlers playing at times – you never know. It depends completely on the captain, what he wants on that particular day, and against that particular opposition.”
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