All credit goes to Rohit
Skipper Virat Kohli feels that no one but Rohit Sharma alone “deserves credit” for overcoming “anxiety and hesitation” while performing commendably in his new role as an opener, giving bowlers enough time to take 20 South African wickets in the 3-0 sweep.
Rohit turned out to be a revelation as opener with scores of 176 and 127 in the first Test and 212 in the third Test. The team management’s stand that he could be a game-changer in the longest format stood vindicated.
“Credit solely goes to the player for the way he overcame his anxiety and hesitation and performed in such a manner that he was adjudged Man-of-the-Series in the first series as an opener. It’s been outstanding for him,” Kohli was effusive in praise for his white-ball deputy.
“There is always an anticipation on how would you perform as an opener in Test cricket, as he has been the world’s best opener in ODI cricket for a long time. Despite missing close to two sessions because of rain, his pace in the batting gave us so much of time to bowl them out twice,” the skipper said.
The top-order had performed brilliantly in the series, something that the skipper finds deeply satisfying.
“Mayank (Agarwal) also has done very well. Despite being new to opening, he performed consistently. Ajinkya (Rahane) also got a century at home after a long time (three years, 188 v NZ October 2016, Indore).
“He also got a Test century in West Indies after a long time. Things are moving in the right direction in the last two-three months. So I said, it feels very pleasing to see individuals performing collectively well.”
Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami took 24 of the 60 South African wickets and their strike-rate is something that makes them stand apart from a lot of Indian fast bowlers over the years, said the skipper.
“If you look at these two guys, their strike-rate is probably the best in Indian conditions in history. So it tells you that these guys hit the stumps and the pads more. It’s a great sign of intent the bowlers are running with. The fitness levels have gone up,” Kohli said.
Meanwhile an exultant India coach Ravi Shastri said Rohit Sharma has shown himself to be of different class in the newly-acquired role of a Test opener, acclimatising exceptionally well to the challenges posed by the position.
“Ajinkya Rahane was always there in the middle order, he only needed to rediscover, which he did himself. Rohit is different class. As an opener he needed to have a different mindset, he acclimatised. It was a difficult pitch to start with but usne jhela,” Shastri told official broadcaster Star Sports at the end of the match.
“He has it in him to be unfazed by difficult conditions. What he has done in this series is tremendous,” he added.