Rohit Sharma: Was preparing mentally to open for two years
Visakhapatnam: Rohit Sharma is the master of timing in more ways than one. He heralded his Test debut with a spectacular 177 against West Indies in November 2013. Then, on return after 13 months through injury-driven wilderness, he slammed an unbeaten 102 v Sri Lanka in November 2017.
Yesterday, at the ACA-VDCA, he took to the responsibility of opening the batting in Test cricket like to the manor born, unleashing a mellifluous unbeaten 115 against a South African attack blunted by the benign nature of the surface and the unforgiving willows of Rohit and Mayank Agarwal (84*). In the 59.1 overs of play before thunder and rain forced an early closure, India had raced away to 202 without loss.
Rohit was at his imperious best as he brought the game plan which has served him superbly in white-ball cricket to red-ball play as well. "I wanted to back myself and back my game," Rohit reflected, as composed as when he stroked a single to sweeper cover to bring up Test hundred No. 4. "What you saw today is pretty much what I do. That is pretty much my batting, so sticking to my template was very important."
Rohit revealed that his elevation as opener wasn't an overnight development. "I was prepared for the past two years; actually, I was preparing mentally that at some stage I might have to open," he said. "Opening the batting in red-ball cricket is a different ball game compared to limited overs. You have to train your mind, more than anything else. You have to challenge yourself as to how you are going to manage to play the new ball and then take the game forward. I was very clear in my mind as to what I wanted to do.
There was no confusion about how I wanted to approach it. "Yes, there will be a lot of challenges ahead but I'm not focussing on all of those." Rohit said he preferred opening than waiting for his turn down the order. "I won't say that didn't suit my batting but here, your mind is absolutely fresh, you know you have to play the new ball. You know the field, you know the ball will not reverse. Just pad up and go out to bat, it suits my game better."
Rohit Sharma is the fourth Indian to score a century in his maiden innings as Test opener
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