Updated: February 26, 2021 11:11:42 am
Intent to score and not just survive was the key to flourish on the Motera pitch, asserted India opener Rohit Sharma who batted effortlessly on the “interesting but normal” pitch that was declared difficult and challenging by visiting England batsmen.
Rohit attributed his sublime first innings half-century to the positive intent that he displayed during the day-night third Test in which England got thrashed by 10 wickets inside two days on the spin-friendly pitch.
“When you are playing on a pitch like that, you need to have an intent and look to score runs as well. You can’t just keep blocking,” Rohit said during the virtual conference after the match on Thursday.
England captain Joe Root and Zak Crawley had earlier described the track as challenging.
The senior opener scored India’s only half-century of the game with the home side spinners accounting for 19 wickets. England batsmen were deceived by left-armer Axar Patel’s straighter deliveries that skidded straight instead of turning.
Rohit felt that during his innings of 66, he was a step or two ahead of England bowlers.
“You just need to be slightly ahead at times and try and find ways to score runs. My intent was not just to survive but try and score runs as well, while respecting the good balls. That’s all I tried to do.
“The pitch was an interesting one and odd ball was just coming in and some were taking turns. On a track like this, you need to have a clear mindset, which I think I did until I played that sweep shot.”
He felt that Patel’s strategy of attacking the stumps paid off well. The spinner ended the game with 11 wickets in his kitty.
“Axar was simply brilliant,” Rohit said, lauding the bowler who had big shoes to fill, replacing an injured Ravindra Jadeja.
“Coming out from nowhere and performing is never easy. He was out injured, slightly down, came back and bowled very well in Chennai. He understands conditions well and how to vary the pace and what lines to bowl.”
Coming wider off the crease was also another effective ploy used by Patel.
“He made the batter play most balls which is important as you never know which one is going to turn. He bowls little wider off the crease and his slightly slinging action makes it very difficult for batsman to either leave or play,” said Rohit.
For Mumbaikar, the second Test track at the Chepauk was way more challenging.
“If you look at the second Test, it was turning hell of a lot than what it did here, to be honest. But then a lot of batters got runs there in the second Test,” he said.
“Like I said in this Test match, we have got to accept that we didn’t bat well but in Chennai where the pitch had a lot more to offer, we batted well on that track.
“Ashwin got a hundred, Virat got 60-odd, so if you applied yourself, you could still score runs,” said Rohit, who himself got 161 in that game.
He admitted that tackling spinners in pink ball games is an area that would need some work.
“We need to get back to drawing board and decide what we need to do when the ball is not spinning. Most batters got out to straight balls.”
Asked about the difference between the pink and the red SG ball, Rohit felt that the former travelled faster.
“I think it (pink) came to the bat a little faster than the normal red ball. I guess it has a lot to do with the conditions in the evening. The temperature goes down and plus dew factor.
“Whenever we play pink ball in India, it’s going to behave like that, lot more grass on the pitch,” he added.
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