IND vs AUS, 2nd Test: 'Playing on pitches like Delhi, need to find methods of scoring runs' - Rohit on Rahul
IND vs AUS 2022-23: India overcame Australia in the second Delhi Test. However, KL Rahul's grey patch continued, while Rohit Sharma has opined that the former will have to find a way to score runs on turning tracks.
India captain Rohit Sharma on Sunday acknowledged that there has been a lot of talk about his deputy opener KL Rahul's prolonged lean patch and that the batter needs to devise his methods of scoring runs on slow turners. With the young opener Shubman Gill waiting in the wings despite his golden run across formats, the pressure is increasing on Rahul, who averages less than 35 after 47 Tests, which is poor by any standards.
"When you are playing on pitches like these, you need to find your methods of scoring runs," Rohit said about Rahul, whose sequence of scores in the last seven innings read 22, 23, 10, 2, 20, 17 and 1. The methods of scoring runs against spinners on turners will differ from batter to batter.
"Different individuals are part of this team and will have different methods of scoring runs. We will only look a little into what one individual is doing. It is about how everyone needs to come together. It is a big series for us, so yeah, that is my thought on KL," Rohit said to a query at the post-match press conference.
Unlike batting coach Vikram Rathour, who had refused to comment on the opener's place after his low scores, the skipper admitted that there had been some "talk" around Rahul's current form. However, the skipper reminded the skipper that Rahul's potential is something that can't be overlooked.
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"Of late, there has been a lot of talk on his batting. But for us, as team management, we always look at the potential of any individual, not just KL. I have been asked in the past about a lot of players. If a guy has potential, guys will get that extended run," Rohit said.
As Rathour had referred to Rahul's Test hundred at Lord's nearly 18 months back, the skipper also touched upon that innings, which is probably his best knock in testing conditions. "It is not just about KL, but anyone. If you look at a couple of hundreds, he got outside India [England 2021 and SA 2022], one of the best I have seen from KL, especially the one at the Lord's," Rohit explained.
"Batting on that damp pitch in England [that too] after losing the toss and put into bat is never easy. He [Rahul] put a great performance there, and Centurion was another. India won both those games. That is the potential he has," Rohit was all praise for his vice-captain. He also said that the team management (captain and coach Rahul Dravid) had advised him to play his natural game. "Of late, there have been talks... it was clear from our side that we want him to go out and play his game," he declared.
Travis Head's onslaught on the second evening of the Delhi Test had caused "panic" in the Indian camp, but Rohit had a long chat with his three spinners to ensure the hosts did not waver from their original plans. With his attacking 39 not out, Head, opening the innings for the first time in the absence of injured David Warner, surprised the hosts and took Australia to 61 for one at the close of play on Day 2 of the second Test.
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Rohit sensed panic, prompting him to speak to his seasoned spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel before the start of play on Sunday morning. In the end, the feared combination of Ashwin and Jadeja ensured a six-wicket win for India, as Australia's mindless aggression backfired on a low and slow Delhi track.
"Sometimes you got to keep it simple and not complicate too much about what is happening. Yesterday, they [Australia] were about 62 (61) for one in 12 overs, which is more than five runs per over. We were panicking a little and trying to change fields way too many times," clarified Rohit.
"In the morning, I wanted to tell those three guys [spinners] to keep it calm. We can keep the field the same as we did last evening. We keep it there, keep it tight, and let batters make that mistake. I could sense they wanted to play that way [aggressive], and that wicket was not where you could come out and keep playing the shots," Rohit said in the post-match media interaction.
Jadeja, who ended with a match haul of 10 wickets, and Ashwin kept on targetting the stumps, and Australia self-destructed with the majority of their batters falling to sweep or reverse sweep. "You got to find balance and try and put them under pressure. We will keep our plans as a bowling unit if they play some shots," Rohit elucidated.
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"Axar, Jaddu and Ash have played a lot of cricket in these conditions. You have got to trust them when things are not going your way. Those are quality batters as well [Australian batters], they are one of the top teams in the world, and there will be times we will be put under pressure. It was about keeping it there and letting the pitch do the rest," ascribed Rohit.
Rohit, who was swift with his foot movement in his two innings, felt sweep was not the best shot to play in the prevailing conditions. He also said technique is equally essential when attacking and not just defending. "You need a method to defend and attack, including the shots down the ground, sweep, and reverse sweep. All the boys playing for India have grown up playing all these shots and defending simultaneously," he explained.
"On pitches like these, you must have confidence in your technique. The preparation for that becomes crucial. Ahead of the Nagpur Test, we had 6-7 days and utilized them well. We worked on what shots to play and how to play them. We played in Nagpur on red soil and batted on black soil [in Delhi]. Here, the sweep could have been a better option. Stepping out to the spinners was the safer option. That is my view," continued Rohit.
"All batters think differently about their batting, and you must have confidence in how you play. Getting runs is the most important thing. You play 100 and 200 balls, but getting runs is also important if you consume that many balls. For that, you need to play shots, and we keep discussing that," the skipper described.
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Jadeja, who made a comeback from injury with the first Test in Nagpur, once again showed the immense value he brings to the side. "He has been brilliant. Comebacks are not easy, but the confidence that guy has in his ability is. That is massive, and you can see it on the field," he stated.
"There were times he [Jadeja] was put under pressure, but there was no sense of panic. He just kept relying on what he was good at, and he kept doing that. He went for more than five runs per over last evening, but he knew exactly what the batters were trying to do and was confident to put them under pressure and get them out," Rohit attested.
'Big plus to have Axar, Jaddu, Ash in lower-order'
Axar and Ashwin shared a match-turning 114-run stand for the eighth wicket on day two, underlining their importance in the side as both bowlers and batters. Jadeja, too, has delivered with both bat and ball so far in the series. "It is a big plus to go as deep as possible. It is something we have been trying to get over for so many years," wondered Rohit.
"Luckily, in these three guys, we have that. It gives you that advantage when the bowlers are a bit tired. These guys also come in and play some shots. They are talented and can take on the bowlers and put the pressure back on the opposition. With these three guys, it is a blessing for us," concluded Rohit.
(With inputs from PTI)