Rohit Sharma got a new leash of life as a Test player after his century against Sri Lanka and after his superlative outing against Sri Lanka in the limited overs series; he will be keen on cementing his place in the longer format on the tour of South Africa.
Hindustan Times had an exclusive chat with Rohit Sharma before his departure for the South Africa tour and here are some of the quotes from the interview.
Talking about importance of captaincy in his batting, Rohit said, “Every time you play for your country, there is responsibility. But when you are captaining, you can say so; you have to lead from the front and make sure the team follows the direction you want them to. For me, whenever I go out in the middle it is a responsibility; whether I am captain or a player.”
Talking about the preparations for South Africa tour this time, Rohit felt confident of a good show and said “Yeah, I think so. Most importantly, we have toured this place before with almost the same squad. We have to take it one tour at a time. We have a good pace attack and batting line-up.”
He continued, “There will be times in South Africa when we will be challenged as a team. We have to stand up to that. When you tour these places it is not easy, but again, we have been there, we know what to expect and that will give us a lot of confidence.”
Talking about playing on fast and bouncy pitches in South Africa, Rohit said, “That is the kind of challenge we want, to play on challenging pitches and conditions. So what if you fail as a team to deliver, there is always learning from that. We said before the start of the Sri Lanka Test series that we wanted to play on challenging pitches and Kolkata was a perfect start. We did not do well, but we got to learn so much. It was a good way to look at the South Africa tour.”
Rohit however admitted that they needed to be wary of the South African fast bowlers.
Rohit said, “Their bowling attack is the most challenging (one) in the world right now. Any home team tends to put a lot of pressure on the touring side. It will be (Kagiso) Rabada, Steyn, and one between (Vernon) Philander and (Morne) Morkel. They might play also an all-rounder like Chris Morris.”
He also called this tour as India’s best chance to win a series in South Africa, saying,” I agree because it is the best pace attack we have. We believe we can take 20 wickets. These 5-6 bowlers have played together for a number of years now, and are one of the reasons why we are No 1.”
Rohit also said that it is tough to remain on the top spot in any sport and cricket is no different. He said, “Every team will be trying to achieve that spot, which means they will come hard, they will play their best… and we do not want to leave that spot. That is why this sport is interesting; everybody is competing for that. When teams go out they do not think about No 1 or 2, they go out to win. If you keep doing the right things, results will take care of themselves.”
Talking about his own batting, Rohit said, “I am happy with the way I hit the ball. There is a certain element of power into it but not completely. It is like 80 per cent timing and 20 per cent power. Why do I need power hitting when I can clear the ropes with timing? The sixes I hit have crossed a decent distance; I don’t need to clear the stadium, just clear the rope. I try and get into the line of the ball and time it. That is my strength and I will stick to it.”
Rohit also said that he needed to stick to his game for best results in South Africa, “My strength is to try and dominate and take the game away from the opposition. Wherever I bat, I have to understand the conditions, respect the bowlers and see how I can be destructive. South Africa is not the easiest place to bat; the first 20-25 minutes can be challenging, but once you get your eye in, try and play your game.”