Rohit Sharma’s brilliant hundred ( 171) was certainly one of the highs in India’s five wicket defeat in the first ODI against Australia but one of the worrying factor according to the in-form opener is not picking up wickets in the middle overs. India had Australia on the back- foot at 21 for two but George Bailey and Steve Smith added 242 runs for the third wicket en route a comfortable win for the hosts.
“There were a lot of positives to be taken from that game especially scoring 300 runs in Perth. Losing is not a positive but we did whatever we could. And also the fact that Australia batted very well,” Rohit said ahead of the second ODI at a press conference in Gabba. “Our morale is high because we have played good cricket and we know that. Only thing is that we need to learn as to how we can take wickets in the middle overs and how to build the pressure,” the opener was forthright in his assessment of the chinks in the team’s armoury.
“If wickets fall in the middle, then it affects the momentum of the opposition team. That is what we need to do this game because we batted well. We bowled well with new ball but were halted in the middle overs because we didn’t take wickets then. And that’s what we have to learn,” Rohit added.
Conditions in Brisbane are expected to be much the same, with the pitch having a bit more pace in it than the one at Perth. Even then, Rohit wouldn’t confirm if the Indian team was contemplating playing four fast bowlers, considering that Ishant Sharma is now fully fit and available.
“There are discussions going on (about picking four fast bowlers) but we all have to wait and see what MS (Dhoni) thinks and what he feels is the right combination to go forward with. Here in Brisbane, it will be very similar to what we got in Perth. “I guess there will be a little more bounce. And Perth was on the slower side a little bit, once the shine was taken off the ball. I think here it will be a little more and the fast bowlers will have a little more assistance through a longer period,” he said.
Talking more about his innings in Perth, Rohit said, “With the change in rules that there are five fielders outside the circle in the last 10 overs, I think it’s very important for a set batsman to play as long as possible. “It is easier for a set batsman in the middle to play big shots in the last 10 overs as compared to the new batsmen coming in. It is very important for the batsman who is set and batting well to carry on as long as possible because that is how you can stretch your target and get to a competitive score,” Rohit explained.
“So that’s how I have looked at it and it is a good opportunity to get past the hundred. You challenge yourself and ask what else you can do after that. So after getting a hundred, I start another innings, which starts from zero, and scoring another hundred and that’s how I look at it. As a batting group, our aim has always been one batsman batting through as long as possible,” he added. There was one criticism of his 200-plus runs partnership with Virat Kohli, and that was regarding the strike-rate.
However, the batsman highlighted that there are no safe scores in ODI cricket anymore. “When you bat first you actually don’t know what is a defendable score. You get 340 and again it is not a safe score anymore. When we were batting in the middle the idea was to capitalize and bat as long as possible, considering we have got a couple of newcomers in the middle order.
“The top three batsmen – myself, Virat (Kohli) and Shikhar Dhawan – for us, it is a big responsibility to bat as long as possible. When we bat we know that we are not too worried about the strike rate we always know that we could cover in the end and in the last 10 overs we scored about 90-95 runs.
“So I think 309 was a pretty good score on that track but as I said Australia batted really well and if you don’t take wickets in the middle it is always going to be difficult especially here in Australia,” he added. When asked if batting second is an advantage thus, the Mumbai batsman replied,”No, I don’t think so. You don’t get dew factor here. The team that plays better cricket will win the game, and it’s as simple as that.
“There is no advantage of batting first or batting second. They batted really well they created big partnership and failed to get break through in the middle. We know where we went wrong and I’m sure we will come back knowing what we can do as a group and put a foot forward.” Last but not the least, he was asked about Sunil Gavaskar’s suggestion of playing ODIs with the pink ball amid complaints that pitches today are too batsmen friendly.
“About playing with the pink ball, I don’t agree that white ball does not do anything. If you play in tough conditions, it is a nightmare for the batsmen. When you play with two new balls when the conditions are against batsmen and when it is overcast the ball tends to swing a lot and there is seam movement as well. “So that’s how I look at it and that is my personal opinion on that,” Rohit signed off.