Team India’s star batsman Rohit Sharma is also doing wonders in Test cricket. It is easy to understand why Rohit felt that it was easier to bat on that difficult wicket in the third Test played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, where the match ended within 48 hours.
On a pitch where the spinners were harassing the batsmen on every ball, getting out continuously, one wicket was falling every other minute, while Rohit scored 66 runs in the first innings. The Indian team was all out for 145 runs. After this he remained frozen in the second innings and then finished the match with six. England captain Joe Root took five wickets in the first innings of the Ahmedabad Test where off-spin looked dangerous.
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In the second Test match of the series, Rohit scored 161 runs out of 329 for the Indian team. This same innings of Rohit contributed a lot in changing the match. Many felt that this star deserved the Mumbaikar Man of the Match. Later Ravichandran Ashwin scored a century in addition to taking 10 wickets, which was the man of the match. Yet it was a ‘masterclass’ innings on how to stop the spinners. A pitch which Jonathan Agnew of the BBC described as ‘not good for Test cricket’.
How is Rohit such a dangerous batsman? To this, his former partner and close friend Abhishek Nair says that any Mumbai player has to face difficult situations when he bats in local cricket. He said, ‘Rohit has played a lot on a red clay wicket, on which the ball rotates a lot. In the Kanga League, the spinners are even more dangerous, as both the wicket and the ball get wet and the ball skids a lot. ‘
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Nair, the current assistant coach of IPL team KKR, said, ‘As it happened in Ahmedabad, you have no idea how the ball will stop or how it will come, take it straight or turn. If you see a sweep shot on it, it is very natural. The ‘Mumbai Shot’ sweep is useful in playing under turning conditions. This is why most Mumbai batsmen, such as Shreyas Iyer, face spin bowling very well. If you do not know how to play spin, then you will not be able to survive in the local cricket league. ‘
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This is not the only reason that makes Rohit a ‘special’ batsman, especially in Test cricket in India. Nair said, “Rohit’s greatest strength is the time it takes to play the ball.” He understands the ball very quickly. Now he has understood what his strength is, and he can dominate a spinner. The former all-rounder feels that at the age of 33, Rohit has now become a mature man, who shows his character both on and off the field.
Mumbai’s legendary batsman Wasim Jaffer said, “With age and time he has matured into a cricketer. He is now a senior cricketer in the Indian team. He is finishing the match. When he comes on an attack, he gives a lot of blow to the bowlers. Against South Africa in 2019, he heavily targeted the spinners and played sweep shots. Although he takes time to settle on the wicket, but it is risk-free cricket.
Rohit’s childhood coach Dinesh Lad said, ‘Earlier people used to blame Rohit for losing his wicket, but now he plays with a lot of focus. He is in the ‘Comfort Zone’. He waits for the ball and wants to score all the time. What makes him most successful is that he waits for the ball, rather than trying to play it too quickly. ‘
Praveen Amre, former Mumbai coach and currently assistant coach of Delhi Capitals, said, “Right now he is very good mentally, which makes him easy to decide. The shot selection about which he had to face a lot of criticism at one time, now that shot has become easy for him. He is confident in defending. He is amazing against the spinner.
Rohit Sharma (file)