Rohit: Was prepared to open for past two years
Rohit Sharma, who scored a century in his first innings as an opener in Tests, said he was mentally prepared to move up to the top of the order and deliver.
Thanks to the unbeaten knocks of Rohit (115) and the other opener Mayank Agarwal (84), India were strongly placed at 202 without loss when rain stalled proceedings on Day I of the first Test against South Africa at the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam.
With his fourth Test century, Rohit achieved an average of 98.22 in Tests at home. In 15 innings, Rohit has scored 884 runs so far.
Interestingly, his average is the joint-best among all batsmen with 10-plus innings, sharing the top spot with none other than Don Bradman, who also averaged 98.22 at home in 50 innings.
For Rohit, it was all about keeping things simple in his head. “The talk of me opening in Tests was going on for a long time.
“During the West Indies tour, I was told that it was going to happen. I was prepared for the past two years. At some stage, I was aware that I might have to open, so I was ready,” Rohit said after scoring his fourth Test century.
It was about challenging himself mentally to play the new ball and take the game forward.
The pitch was pretty good for batting, but that said, Rohit as of now has vindicated the team management’s faith in him. “Of course, opening the batting is a different ball game in red-ball cricket. Mentally, you have to train your mind more than anything else.
“At the same time, you do need to look into some technical aspects of batting. But more than that, you have to challenge yourself mentally to play the new ball and take the game forward.
“Those are the things I kept in mind when I went out to bat. There was no confusion about how I wanted to approach the innings,” Rohit elaborated.
In ODIs too, Rohit used to bat in the middle order, but he became a white-ball great only with his fantastic success at the top of the order. “I think opening just suits my game… I just wear the pads and bat…
“It was a waiting game, when I used to bat at number five or six. I won’t say it didn’t suit my batting. Your mind is fresh and you know we have to play the new ball.
“You know the bowlers who will bowl the new ball and these will be the fielders, so the game plan is easier for you. At number six, the ball is reversing, field placement is different and you need to keep all those things in mind.
“That game of wearing the pads and going in to bat suits me more,” said the maker of more than 10,000 runs in limited-overs cricket.
Asked what made him agree to the team management’s decision of promoting him to open, Rohit replied: “When you are playing international cricket, you always look for opportunities.
“This is a great opportunity for me. Yes, there will be a lot of challenges ahead, but I am not focusing on that. I believe in staying in the present.
“When you start the innings for your team, there is so much positivity and there is a feel-good factor. The opportunity presented itself and I wanted to take that opportunity. I was pretty clear in my communication to the management and it was pretty clear about what it wanted from me.”
Rohit made batting look easier on a Day I pitch, but he did have to see off a testing spell from Vernon Philander.
“The red ball moves for a longer period of time and it will possess a lot of threat. In any conditions, in the first few overs, the ball will do something. I was just focusing on the basics — playing close to the body and leaving the ball.
“We have played so much cricket in India. I know what happens after seven-eight overs once the shine is gone. It does not swing much thereafter.
“And from there on it is about taking the game forward. It is a slow and low pitch. So, it is crucial for you not to get stuck at any time.”