Rohit Sharma has enjoyed and reveled in his new role as a Test opener but he is flexible about his batting position in the eagerly-anticipated 4 match test series against hosts Australia and leaves the decision to the team management.
The senior batsman is expected to play a big role alongside Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara when skipper Virat Kohli returns to India after the opening Test for the birth of his first child.
Rohit Sharma Happy To Bat Wherever Team Wants
The 33 year old is often regarded as ODI specialist as he has 29 centuries including 3 double tons which is the most in world in ODIs, but he also averages 46.54 in 32 tests with 6 tons.
“I will tell you the same thing that I have told everyone all this while. I will be happy to bat wherever the team wants me to but I don’t know if they would change my role as an opener,” Rohit told PTI in an exclusive interview.
He believes that the team management will have figured out his role and position in the batting order by the time he reaches Australia after working on his strength and conditioning fitness at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. He had picked up a minor hamstring injury during the IPL 2020 and will skip 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is.
“I am sure the guys already in Australia must have figured out what are options when Virat leaves and who are the guys who will open the innings,” Rohit said.
“Once I reach there, I will probably have a clearer idea of what”s going to happen. I will be okay to bat wherever they want,” added the dashing batsman.
One of the finest players who can play the hook and pull shots to perfection, the Mumbai batsman believes that the bounce on Australian tracks is sometimes, not as big a factor as it is often considered.
“We talk about bounce but except for Perth, over the past few years, the other grounds (Adelaide, MCG, SCG), I don’t think have that much bounce. Nowadays, especially while opening the batting, I will have to think about not playing the cut or pull shots and focus on playing in the ”V” and as straight as possible,” he said.
He debuted in tests in 2013 and played his last test in 2019 against Bangladesh. He averages 31 against Australia and has 2141 runs in Test matches.
Rohit Sharma : Pacers Will Pitch It Up And Bouncer Would Be Used Sparingly
He spoke about Australian pacers Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins or Mitchell Starc pitching the ball up besides swinging it both ways and sparingly using bouncers with the new kookaburra.
“With new ball, whoever bowls, they will obviously pitch it up, swing the ball and the bouncer would be used sparingly. They would try to ensure with the new ball that they would get some movement off the air or off the pitch. So majority of the deliveries will be up and towards the bat and not short,” he explained.
Rohit Sharma then cited the example of how spinner Nathan Lyon was effective as Australia’s best bowler (8 wickets) in the Perth Test that the home team won in the 2018-19 series.
“We talk about bounce on Australian tracks. But tell me how many people got out on bouncers during the last series? When we played in Perth in 2018-19, it was Nathan Lyon, who got eight wickets including a five-for. In Australia, half the job is done if you can start well upfront,” said he.
Rohit Sharma started on a brilliant note with twin hundreds as an opener, followed by a double hundred in a three-Test series against South Africa. For him, the traditional format comes with its own set of challenges.
“It’s going to be challenging. In general, international cricket is never easy, whichever format it is. When you had such a long lay off (from international cricket), it becomes all the more difficult. So, I would be focusing on basics of red ball cricket and then you can top up with other things. That’s how I would like to take it forward,” Rohit said.
Rohit Sharma said strong basics is the key to success in Test cricket.
“Once you have your basics strong, you can work around that and build your own technique. Mentally, that’s how you prepare,” he said.
In his 13 years in international cricket, Rohit Sharma has dealt with ups and downs and believes in trusting the process and is mentally prepared after a long lay-off.
“Mentally, I am prepared and I have had enough setbacks in my career where I have had long lay-offs due to injury and due to form. I know how to come back and bounce back from that. For me, being out for three, six or one month, really doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the process,” he signed off.
Rohit Sharma averages 92.67 as test opener where he scored 556 runs with his career best score of 212 coming while he was opening the innings. At No. 6 position, he has 1037 runs averaging 54.58.