Indian captain Rohit Sharma wants his batters to take a leaf out of Shreyas Iyer’s book if they want to play impactful innings on challenging surfaces. The Indian batters struggled big time against Australian spinners in the third Test in Indore, which Steven Smith and Co. won by nine wickets to keep the four-match series alive.
Rohit said Indian batters weren’t brave enough and allowed the likes of Nathan Lyon, Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy to dictate terms. India were bundled out for just 109 in the first innings and then allowed Australia to take a lead of 88 runs.
In the second innings, Cheteshwar Pujara crafted a fifty, while Iyer slammed 26 off 27 deliveries before falling to Mitchell Starc. Those knocks didn’t matter in the end as Australia got the required runs on day three with utmost ease.
"When you're playing on pitches like this, you need a Shreyas Iyer kind of an innings. Someone has to step up, someone has to take down the bowlers. It cannot always be that the batters will get 100 runs, 90 runs, 80 runs, you have to play cameos like that," said Rohit at his post-match press conference.
"If one of the top batters can get a big score, that's a plus, that's great, but when you know the pitch has some offering, there is a challenge, you need guys to go out there and play the way Iyer did, even though it (his dismissal) was a little unlucky or unfortunate.
"I would say he timed the ball really well, straight went into the hands - not straight into the hands, Khawaja took a very good catch - but you need that kind of innings."
Apart from these two batters, India didn’t do much in the second innings as well. Pujara got 59 off 142 deliveries and Rohit wants his batters to find their “own methods” to score runs on such surfaces.
"Pujara (was) being Pujara. He loves spending time in the middle, he wants to grind it out, that's his way of doing it. May not be the same way for a lot of the other guys,” said Rohit.
"That is something that we spoke in our group as well, find your own methods of going out there and doing your job. As long as the job gets done, we are happy as a unit. Yes, like in the first two games as well, the runs will not come from everyone. As long as the runs come, we are happy as a unit."
Rohit wasn’t too impressed when he was constantly asked about the surface. “Every time we play in India, there's only focus on the pitch. Why are people not asking me about Nathan Lyon, how well he bowled, how well Pujara batted in the second innings, how well Usman Khawaja played?"
Talking about Lyon, who claimed 11 wickets in the match, Rohit said: "I think he should be at the top in my opinion, because obviously I've not played guys like Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan) and Shane Warne and all those guys, but to me, in the current crop, probably the No. 1 bowler from overseas to come and play here in India, because he's got so much consistency in his line and length, doesn't give you too much.
"When someone's bowling with that accuracy, you've got to try and do something different, find your ways of scoring runs against him, because you know that he's not going to give you anything easy, so you've got to try and put him under pressure a little bit, and people will have their own way of doing it.
"This is probably his third tour to India. The first two tours, I was not part of the team, but I was watching the game, got wickets as well in the previous tour, and then now obviously, he's played so much cricket as well, for Australia, very experienced bowler, he's not afraid of getting hit, that is something that I've noticed.
"That gives him a lot of confidence, and that gives the captain as well a lot of confidence that I've got a guy who can just not worry about anything, I know he's going to pitch it there and let the pitch do the rest for him. When you have someone like that, it gives you a lot of confidence as a whole, as a team."