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NEW DELHI: The matches against England’s ‘Bazballers’ posed perhaps the greatest test of Rohit Sharma‘s captaincy on home soil but not only did the Indian skipper excel in leading his team, but he also gained valuable insights into his leadership abilities during what he termed as a ‘series of comebacks’.
In the four Tests played so far, India found themselves under pressure. However, following the setback in Hyderabad, the hosts managed to turn the tables on the opposition and clinch the series in Ranchi.
As the finale commences in Dharamsala on Thursday, the Indian team aims to build upon the momentum and secure another victory.
On the eve of the Test, Rohit struggled to define the ‘Bazball’ approach adopted by England but gave the opponents due credit.
“Honestly, I don’t know what Bazball means… whether it is to go and strike? whether it is to go and defend and wait for the loose ball? because I’ve not seen any wild swinging from anyone. I don’t know exactly what this term means,” Rohit said on Wednesday.
“But yeah clearly they’ve played better cricket than the last series they were here. And you’ve got to give credit to two of their batters who got big hundreds (Ollie Pope and Ben Duckett,” he added.
Earlier, Duckett had suggested that the series’ leading run-getter Yashasvi Jaiswal learned a lot from the opponents’ fearless approach. Rohit was amused when reminded of that remark.
“I think there was this guy called Rishabh Pant in our team. Probably Ben Duckett hasn’t seen him bat,” he quipped.
India are expected to win at home but what made the feat remarkable was that the home team bossed over ‘Bazball’ in the absence of senior players including Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami and K L Rahul, who only played the series-opener.
It forced India to play four debutants in Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel, Akash Deep and Rajat Patidar.
Besides Patidar, all the rookies were able to make an impact and the MP batter would be desperate to make amends here.
On the eve of the final Test, Rohit was asked about his thoughts on the fiercely fought series and his learnings from it, and he had a lot to say.
“…there are a lot of different challenges that came our way right from Test match No. 1 till now. During the series as well, as a captain, this was probably the series where I got to learn a lot about how to utilise the players I have at their best,” said Rohit.
“And when the pressure is put back on you, how to respond to certain situations of the game. I am glad that I was captaining this series, it made me understand where I have lacked as a captain as well and what are the things I need to do differently.
“Well, learnings from this series are big. Obviously, there is one more (match) to go and I am sure I will understand a lot more here as well, but yeah different challenges are thrown at you, that is where the captain is looked up to.”
Considering the recent past, rank turners were expected in the series but sporting tracks were laid out for the first four games and the Dharamsala surface too wore a flat look a day before the game.
Was the series win on good tracks more pleasing for the Indian captain?
“I have a different take on this because whether it is a rank turner or a good pitch, you have to win. Rank turner is not just for us but for them as well. So both teams play on that and both teams have an advantage or disadvantage.
“I won’t say that I am satisfied to win on a pitch like this. It’s good but a win is a win. The way we won is important for me because a lot of time, we were behind in the game and we bounced back from there,” he said.
“From the first Test to the Ranchi Test. We were ahead in Hyderabad but lost that Test. The Vizag Test went neck-to-neck. In Rajkot, we scored big but they came back to bat well and it was important for us to come back and we did. Basically, it has been a series of comebacks for us. We have come back from being down in one session to dominating the next.”
How the youngsters, especially debutants, responded in tense situations pleased Rohit the most.
“Throughout the series you must have seen that we have absorbed pressure and put it back on the opposition. This has been satisfying, especially with a group of boys, who have not been under such pressure situations,” he said.
Looks like a typical Indian wicket
The weather is unusually cold for this time of the year and that could be an added advantage for the pace bowlers. Playing his first Test at the venue, Rohit is not worried about the pitch’s behaviour.
“It looks like a good pitch. Obviously, when you have a weather like that, you have to expect there will be some movement and in the evening it goes on to spin.
“If we feel the weather is going to be like this, there’s a good chance (that we might play an extra pacer),” he said.
Patidar a talent player
Rajat Patidar has had a hard time in his debut series but Rohit backed him to the hilt.
“…the guy definitely has got a lot of ability. I’ve seen him play very good cricket. He’s a talent player. If I watch someone’s batting and like it, I call him a talent player. I am not saying he’s talented, I like to call him a talent player.
“He’s very new to Test cricket, so we’ve got to give him some more time to really make a judgement on him,” added Rohit.
(With inputs from PTI)


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