Rohit Sharma, who ended as the highest run-getter in the third Test, asserted that it was imperative for batsmen to show intent to excel in an ‘interesting pitch’ in the third Test and acknowledged that he did it to great effect. Rohit further claimed that the Ahmedabad pitch had ‘no demons’.
The pink-ball Test between India and England, which was played at the world’s largest stadium, came with a lot of hype but, unfortunately, the contest did not deliver, with the game ending in under two days. A large reason for the same was the ineptitude of batsmen from both sides, with neither side managing to cross the 150-run mark in the game.
A rare success on the wicket, however, was Rohit Sharma. Rohit was one of just two batsmen to score a fifty on the pitch – the other being Zak Crawley – and the Mumbaikar looked in complete control when he batted, striking a staggering 15 boundaries across two innings.
Rohit, in the game, seemed to have cracked a code that no other batsman did, and speaking in the press conference post the game, the 33-year-old revealed that it was ‘intent’ which was his mantra for success.
“To be honest I didn’t do anything different. When you’re playing on a pitch like this – and we’ve spoken about this many times before – that you need to have intent; you need to look to score runs as well,” Rohit said in the press conference.
“Because you can’t just keep blocking. As we saw, the odd ball might just turn; odd ball might just skid on to the stumps if you play for the turn. So it is important to have that intent – try and use your feet and do as many things as possible to stay ahead of the bowler’s mindset.”
The reason batsmen needed to show intent, Rohit revealed, was in order to stay one step ahead of the bowlers. The opener, who amassed 91 runs in the game, asserted that it was important for batsmen to not let bowlers settle on a pitch that was ‘interesting’, and claimed that he batted with a clear mindset when he strode out to the middle.
“Because it is very very important on a pitch that is offering a lot for the bowlers. You just need to be slightly ahead of the bowlers at times and need to make sure that you try and find ways to score runs. All I was thinking was find ways to score runs. My intent was to not survive. My intent was to try and score runs while negating the good balls. That’s all I tried to do.
“The pitch was interesting. The odd ball was coming in and some were turning. When you’re batting on a wicket like that, you need to have a clear mindset – which probably I feel I did, until I played the sweep shot,” Rohit said.
Remarkably the Test lasted under 150 overs and, thanks to spinners from both sides wreaking havoc, the entire Test ended up finishing before stumps on Day 2. Understandably, due to the turn that was on offer and due to the duration of the game, the pitch has come under question, but Rohit, interestingly, claimed that the wicket had ‘no demons’. The Indian opener instead stated that the short duration of the game was more down to the poor choices made by batsmen from both sides.
“No I don’t think so (I’ve not been part of such a weird Test match). To be honest, the pitch didn’t do anything – most of the batters got out to a straighter delivery. We also as a batting unit made a lot of mistakes whilst batting. There were no demons and it was a nice pitch to bat on. Once you’re in, you can score runs as well. But, again, you just need to apply and keep concentrating on a pitch like that. You need to find ways to score runs, and for that, you need more concentration on a pitch like that.”
After being 114/3 at one stage in their first innings, the Indian batsmen lost their last 7 wickets for just 31 runs to get bowled out for 145. In the horror collapse, many batsmen were bamboozled by the spin of Leach and Root, and, owing to the same, the proficiency of the Indian batsmen versus spin bowling has since come under question. Rohit, however, rubbished suggestions that modern-day Indian batsmen can’t play spin and pointed to their excellence in the second Test in Chennai which, according to him, had a lot more demons than the wicket in Ahmedabad.
“Not really (Indian batsmen are not bad players of spin). If you look at the second Test in Chennai, it turned hell of a lot than what it did here. Still, a lot of batters got runs there. Like I said, in this Test match we have to be honest to ourselves and accept that we did not bat well. But in Chennai, which had a lot more to offer than this pitch, we batted well on that pitch.”