Coming into the first Test against South Africa, Rohit Sharma’s reboot as an opener in the longest format was the most talked about subject. The 32-year-old has ensured that he will continue to remain so after two centuries that bagged him the Man of the Match award.
As far as the stats go, he is the first Indian opener since Sunil Gavaskar in 41 years to have scored two tons in a Test match. He is also now the holder of most sixes in a Test match (13). Yet, these are early days and Sharma knows it. He will be analysed further in the coming Tests and the real challenge will be to perform abroad.
“All those things are nice to happen along the way but I have said many times I am not here for records. I just want to enjoy the game. I know it might sound boring as I have said that a lot of times before but it is what it is,” Sharma said after the fifth day’s play.
All the talk around him trying to finally consolidate his Test career in a new position, while there are younger openers waiting for their chance, also doesn’t affect him, he says.
“I have protected myself with a shield around me for a long time now. All those things that happen outside do not come inside that shield. So what people talk and what people think of me doesn’t really bother me, because eventually I have to play my game and I have to enjoy my game because it was my dream to play cricket. And I am living that dream,” he said.
“When I was young I never thought what people will talk, whether people will talk about me. Now that people are talking about me, I have protected myself with a shield around me and that shield is pretty strong.”
Though Sharma was told about his opening role during the West Indies series that followed the World Cup, he had received an intimation long time back.
“Talking about opening I knew at some stage I will open. That communication between management and me happened long time ago, that I might have to open at some stage. So, for the past two or three years I was prepared for it mentally. Whenever I was not playing a Test match, in the nets I was batting with the new ball trying to be ready if the opportunity came. It’s a great start and I have a long way to go. It’s not the end, it’s the start. Good things are about to follow,” he said.
He was also appreciative of the way wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha made a comeback into the team after January, 2018.
“It is not easy for the keeper in these conditions because the odd ball turns, stays low. I don’t know that much technically but as a keeper you have to stay very still and I thought he did a great job.
“Even today for balls which did not carry, he put his body behind to make sure runs are not offered easily. He is helpful in DRS, he is a big part in our line-up and that is why he is back in the squad,” Sharma said.
“Speaking of Rishabh Pant, he is definitely a quality player that every team wants. Who should play and who should not, I am not getting into that. But Pant, we have seen what he can do with the bat. Of course he is working hard in his game: his batting, his keeping. He can also learn from Saha. In the West Indies, Saha guided him after every session. They have a great understanding.”
First Published: Oct 06, 2019 23:26 IST