Rohit: 'I look at Chahal and Kuldeep as mystery spinners'

Ahead of the India-Australia ODI opener on Sunday, the men in blue vice-captain Rohit Sharma talks about his good record against the Aussies, India's wrist spinners and on vice-captaincy.

"You never know what’s coming out of their hand to be honest. That’s what they bring to the table and that’s what the captain really wants," said Rohit Sharma of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.   -  B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

The smile on Rohit Sharma’s face was hard to miss as the India vice-captain walked into the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday. As some of the fans rushed towards him seeking autographs and selfies, he happily obliged them.

A few minutes later, he tackled googlies from the scribes at ease. The smile remained intact.

Excerpts

On what motivates him to play better against Australia

Nothing in particular, to be honest. I want to have the same kind of performance against all the opposition I face. Somehow, I have really managed well against these guys. It’s great to have that sort of performances against one of the best teams. Australia is a very strong opposition and to have that sort of performance against these guys makes me feel good.

On both Australia and India remaining subdued before the series

We have to see (how things go) once the tournament starts. We have to maintain the spirit of the game. Both teams are aggressive in nature. Having said that, spirit of the game always needs to be there.

We all know as professional cricketers we shouldn’t cross our limits. We always have to be in our space. A lot of these guys play enough cricket to understand that. But we all want to play aggressive cricket and that's what India-Australia battle is all about. We come at each other very hard and that’s how this series is going to be played.

On what India’s two wrist-spinners — Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav — bring to the table

I look at them as a little bit of mystery spinners. You never know what’s coming out of their hand to be honest. That’s what they bring to the table and that’s what the captain really wants. He (Virat Kohli) is comfortable and quite happy to get them into the fray and see what they have. The crucial breakthroughs we look forward to in the middle part of the game is very important. There you need a bowler who can kind of get into some mystery things and bring out those crucial breakthroughs. That’s exactly what happened in Sri Lanka. Someone like Chahal, who got an opportunity in the first game, got us a breakthrough. Same thing happened with Axar.

Again Kuldeep did it in West Indies when he played all three games. These kind of bowlers, it's always good to have in your ranks. Whenever they have an opportunity, even when we are facing them in the nets, we don’t know what is going to come.

On whether he changes his gameplan according to the opener walking out with him

The partner doesn’t matter, to be honest. It’s what the condition has to offer, what sort of pitch you are playing in. If I see someone struggling at the other end, I will have to take up the role and if they see I'm struggling, they'll take up that role. That’s the planning we have in our set up. When we get out in the middle, there is no confusion. There is only one thought – how to get our team off to a good start. Whoever gets the opportunity to bat with me will think the same way. It’s all about complementing each other. That’s very crucial going forward and that's what has got us a lot of success to our team.

Things will not change so much, but we will be playing at different conditions all the time so we will have to assess the wicket and see what a good score is. We actually plan according to that. We always have a talk in the middle, what we need to do in the middle. The two guys in the middle are the boss. They have all the time and the right to make the decisions and the team is there to back them all the time.

On whether he is getting more involved after becoming the vice-captain

It was actually happening before as well (laughs).

The average age of the team is about 26-27 and we have all played together. There was never a thing where Virat as a captain has not gone to anyone and spoken about it (taking responsibilities).

He’s always ready to talk to anyone whether someone has come new into the team, he wouldn’t mind going up to him and seeking his advice. I don't see anything has changed with my role. Of course, now that I am officially the vice-captain, it’s a bit more now, so I have to be around whenever he wants and I have to complement him. The other ten guys on the field will always be backing him with whatever decision he makes, that's what we always require as a team.

On what to expect from the Chepauk wicket

I just had a glance when I was walking by. It looks a typical Chennai wicket. Good, hard wicket so I guess plenty of runs (are expected) on the board. It will be a good high-scoring game, I feel. We will get to know more when we start training and have a closer look.