Rohit Sharma downplays Bazball, stresses on clarity ahead of IND vs ENG Test series opener

Rohit Sharma said he is not interested in how the opposition plays the game ahead of the Test series opener against England.

Published : Jan 24, 2024 14:53 IST , Hyderabad - 4 MINS READ

India skipper Rohit Sharma in the press conference ahead of the first Test against England.
India skipper Rohit Sharma in the press conference ahead of the first Test against England. | Photo Credit: PTI

India skipper Rohit Sharma in the press conference ahead of the first Test against England. | Photo Credit: PTI


India skipper Rohit Sharma downplayed England’s Bazball approach and said that he is not interested in how the opposition plays the game. India will take on England in the first Test on Thursday, and Rohit said that the team is focused on playing good cricket.

“We look to play our cricket, and I am not interested in looking at how the opposition is going to play. It’s important that we look into our cricket, focus on what we need to do as a team, and take it from there,” Rohit said during a media interaction.

Toss between Axar and Kuldeep 

Spin will play a major factor, and India, in all probability, will be going with three spinners. While R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are the automatic choices, the third spinner’s spot will be occupied by either Axar Patel or Kuldeep Yadav. Recognising the fact that it was a tough call to make, Rohit said that both bowlers have unique skills that become hard to ignore.

“It was a bit of a headache to decide who it would be. I am not going to say who it is, and it was a challenge for us to decide as to who it is. Kuldeep gives you a certain X factor with his bowling especially if the wicket gives bounce or not he still becomes a factor because he has got superb variations and he is a very mature bowler now. He has not played much cricket in India because of Ashwin and Jadeja and that’s what has even happened in the past also.

“Lot of us got our chances late but that’s how it is and that’s the reality it is, and you can’t hide away from it. Kuldeep is a much better bowler, and it’s a very tempting option. Axar with his all-round ability, gives us the batting depth and the consistency he has shown. We have quality around our spin bowling department and it’s a good headache,” he said.

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Bharat, Jurel vie for wicket-keeper’s spot 

KL Rahul, who kept wickets in South Africa, will not be donning the big gloves, as either Dhruv Jurel will make his Test debut or K.S. Bharat, who kept wickets during the Australia series and the World Test Championship final, will stand behind the stumps in challenging conditions. Without divulging much, Rohit said, “We will see and assess their performance; we are looking at the bigger picture, and we will give as many games as possible to the individual. Whatever is right for the team, we will do that.”

Rohit backs Patidar 

Rajat Patidar, the Madhya Pradesh batsman who was with the India A team in Ahmedabad, was added to the Test squad as Virat Kohli’s replacement for the first two Tests. There were talks that veteran Cheteshwar Pujara might be recalled to lend experience in the middle-order. However, the team management went with the young batsman who hammered a brilliant 158-ball 151 in the second four-day match against the England Lions. The Indian skipper explained the rationale behind picking Patidar over Pujara. 

“We did actually think about it (picking Pujara) but all these younger players, when are they going to get their opportunity? That’s something we thought about as well. Leaving out an experienced player and not considering them is very hard because of the amount of runs they have scored and the kind of experience they have had, and the number of games they have won for us. It is very hard to ignore all of that. But you need to bring certain players into your set-up and give them favourable conditions. You don’t want to expose them on foreign tours where they have not played before. That’s the thought behind all of that. It’s important we try and get these youngsters in whenever there is an opportunity. But I am not saying the doors are closed on anyone as long as they stay fit and keep scoring runs, anyone will be welcomed back into the set-up,” he said. 

Rohit also said that he and his team-mates have to approach the five-match series and play in Indian conditions with a certain game plan and, most importantly, back it to reap success.

“You need to have a game plan, and you need to back your game plan. Whether tight defence, sweep, reverse sweep whatever it is just be clear. Don’t be in two minds, as that is where you can get yourself in trouble and then understand your own strengths. We have grown up playing in these conditions, and it is all about handling the pressure of playing a Test match. We all play Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy but the pressure of playing a Test match is different.”  

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