“ Bombay hai is liye aaya… ,” Rohit Sharma said as he walked in for the post-match presser in the C.K. Nayudu Hall at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) on Monday.
The India vice-captain, who played a stellar knock of 162 to help India bag the fourth ODI against the Windies, said that the experience of playing at the CCI helped him play the big knock.
Sharma also heaped praise on Ambati Rayudu, who scored a 81 balls 100 in the match, saying that Rayudu’s innings will ‘hopefully’ help him cement his place at No.4, at least till the World Cup.
“It (Rayudu’s knock) was very important. Hopefully, he has solved all the mysteries of No 4. I guess, till the World Cup, there will be no questions on No 4. He batted brilliantly,” Sharma said.
The Mumbaikar, who built a 211-run stand for the third wicket with Rayudu, said that the partnership came at the right time.
“At that point, a big partnership was needed, and it was also a perfect platform for him to showcase what he has got. There was pressure. Of course, after losing the top two batsmen, building a partnership was important. It was a pressure innings,” Sharma said.
“I thought he responded really well to that situation. He batted freely once he got his fifty. He started playing those shots. We have known Rayudu for a long time and he can produce the kind of innings that he did today. That's probably the reason we got him at No 4, and he hasn't disappointed. He has done well in whatever opportunities he has got,” Sharma said.
Rayudu, who missed out on the England tour after failing to clear the Yo-Yo test, returned to the side for the Asia Cup. Sharma said that the criteria for India selection is simple—you need to pass the Yo-Yo test.
“That’s why (Since he failed the test) he was not there, now he has cleared it, he is here. It is very simple: if you pass it, you will be playing, if you don’t, you won’t play,” 31-year old said.
Sharma, who reached his 100 in 98 balls, scored 62 runs off the next 39 balls and looked set for a fourth ODI double hundred. However, he made it clear that a double century was never on his mind.
“I have played a lot of cricket at CCI and I have always enjoyed batting here. It is a good pitch and you get value for your shots. It has a fast outfield, so you don’t need to try and hit too hard. You can find the gaps, and that’s what I was looking at. When you come to a ground where you have played enough cricket, you feel confident of going into a match,” he said, adding: “That was my mindset before walking into bat.”
Sharma rated the CCI wicket as one of the best in the country. “It was possibly one of the best pitches I have played in India… If you closely look at the game, it was offering something for the bowlers as well. It had swing, there was some seam movement as well. Once you are set, it is a batsman’s paradise. When Shikhar and I were batting, we were not finding it that easy because you need to spend some time. It had things to offer for both batsmen and bowlers,” he said.
Sharma was also happy with the way young pacer Khaleel Ahmed took three wickets. “Khaleel is a very promising prospect. He started off from Asia Cup and showed a lot of promise, which is probably why he’s in the squad. And with the left-arm seamer, you always have that edge. When the left-armers swing the ball the way Khaleel did today, it’s always going to trouble the batsman no matter what sort of batsman he’s bowling against,” Sharma said.
“If he’s swinging the ball the way he is, any batsman in the world will find it difficult. He’s maturing very fast, he understands his bowling. And the management also understands where he needs to be going into the World Cup.
There are lot of games before that, and I wouldn’t say that the spots are guaranteed for anyone. We still have a lot of games to play and he’s shown lot of promise," he added.
Sharma hoped that the 20-year old's skills could be very helpful in the upcoming series against New Zealand and at the World Cup in England.
"And I hope he continues to do that because it’s only going to be better for us. Come New Zealand, the World Cup in England where the ball swings a lot, he might be very handy there,” the vice-captain remarked.
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