Rohit Sharma might be new to leading Team India in Test cricket, but has so far won all his three matches in charge. The latest one against Australia will feel a lot more special as he scored his first-ever Test ton as captain. His 120 paved the platform for India to put up 400 and win the first Test in Nagpur by an innings and 132 runs inside three days.
It was once again the Indian spinners who wreaked havoc, picking up 16 wickets between them. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja picked up five-wickets hauls in the match, while also chipping in with the bat. Rohit reveals he learnt the art of keeping the pressure on the batters when the spinners are bowling, regardless of the situation from his predecessor Virat Kohli, India's most successful captain in the format.
“When Virat was captaining, I noticed one thing, no matter if we got a wicket or not, the pressure had to be there so that the opposition made a mistake," Rohit said in the post-match press conference.
“That’s what I learnt when Virat was captaining and these guys were bowling. That’s what I try to do now. Apply pressure and don’t expect wickets every ball; its not going to happen like that but if it happens, nothing like it. We’ve got to be at it, and keep putting the ball in right areas and let the pitch help you.”
Speaking of Ashwin, Rohit said he looks a different bowler every time he takes the field in Tests.
“He [Ashwin] looks a different bowler. I wouldn’t say an improved bowler as he was always a good bowler but he looks a different bowler every time he plays Test cricket. That’s what good cricketers do. They try and up their game and try to reach the next level,” said Rohit.
“Ashwin has played so much cricket in India and is closing in on playing 100 Tests (89). I am pretty sure he has played most of those Tests in India and not to forget the first-class games as well before he made his debut,” Rohit explained when asked what Ashwin did differently compared to Nathan Lyon and Todd Murphy.
“A lot of cricket and overs have gone into skills and being able to do what he is doing now; to be able to extract something out of pitch, it is not easy.” “He can bowl that carrom ball and top spin and slider. The guy has got everything. The reason he is able to extract [so much] from the pitches is because of (the) skill-sets that he has. He is a very studious guy and likes to understand his game and take it to the next level.”
Asked how it was to lead the spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Axar Patel, Rohit said, “It’s like captaining [Pat] Cummins, [Josh] Hazlewood and [Mitchell] Starc in Australia. Pretty similar. When you have the quality of Axar, Jadeja, and Ash, having played in India for so many years, playing on pitches like these, it’s always a blessing.”
“Conditions are there for everyone but what they extract from those conditions make them really, really special. They have played on these pitches a lot and they know which areas to hit, how to keep applying that pressure.”
Was this Rohit's best knock in Test cricket? Or does he rate the 160 against England in a rank-turner higher?
“Honestly, I am not too much into rating one knock above the other. Every time you play a knock like that it is important, so it is unfair to put one knock above the other. Both have come under different circumstances," Rohit reckons.
“In Chennai, we were one Test match down, we had to win. And, especially in home conditions when you are one-down, you are under pressure to do things right
“Both (centuries) had their own challenges and I am very happy with the two knocks. When you come up with performances like these, you really feel good about it; it gives you lot of confidence also,” he concluded.