Rohit Sharma couldn’t have asked for a better start to his red-ball career as an opener as he hit two classy centuries (176 and 127) in the first Test against South Africa in Visakhapatnam.
Thanks to his Man-of-the-Match performance, India defeated the Proteas by 203 runs and secured a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
As the hosts are now gearing up to face South Africa in the second Test in Pune, India skipper Virat Kohli urged the media and critics to shift the focus away from Rohit and let him enjoy his batting in the longest format.
"Come on give the guy a break now. He has done well. Let him enjoy his batting at the top of the order. Let him have fun like he does in white-ball cricket. Stop focussing on what Rohit is going to do in Tests. He is in a great space. He is playing really well.
"He looked relaxed in the 1st Test which is a great thing. All the experience he has accumulated over the years came to the fore. He is feeling absolutely at home at the top of the order. For us, the team, it's a huge bonus.
"If you see the way he played in the 2nd innings, the way he has the ability to take the the tempo of the game forward, that allows the bowlers to have an extra hour and a half of maybe 2 hours to bowl the opposition out.
"So, look if a guy like him at the top order plays the way he did in the first Test, we are going to be in situations from where we can go for victories in most of the Test matches. We are all very happy for him," Kohli said at the press conference on the eve of the Pune Test.
Talking about the team composition for the second Test, the Indian captain made it clear that Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will always be their first-choice spinners in home Tests.
"It's purely combination. A lot has been said and spoken about the system that we have followed in the last 2 years. The only thing that matters to us is wanting to win as many games as we can. We have been able to do it. We have among the least losing percentages.
"We don't want to be rigid in our thinking saying this is how we need to go forward. We want to be flexible. It can't be possible if the team doesn't buy into it. The players have bought into it and people are just wanting to contribute.
"No one is self-centered. Everyone is thinking about how to contribute to the team's win. Same with Kuldeep as well. He understands the combination. In India, Ashwin and Jadeja are going to be our first-choice spinners. They also contribute so much with the bat as well. For us, it's about finding the best balance and it's purely combination well," Kohli said.
(Inputs from India Today)