Confident Rohit looking forward to red-ball challenge
Test cricket is the format Rohit wants to excel in. (Getty Image)

While a regular in India s limited-overs format, Rohit Sharma is yet to quite cement his place in India s Test squad. Five years removed from his debut against West Indies, Rohit has featured for India in 25 Tests, in which he has scored 1479 runs with three centuries and nine fifties his last appearance coming against South Africa earlier in January.

Ignored for the tour of England, Rohit put up stunning performances in the Asia Cup and the series against West Indies, which rewarded him a berth in the Test squad for the tour of Australia. And as India prepare for the gruelling four-match series starting December 6 in Adelaide, Rohit will be a vital cog in India s plans, considering their batting has struggled to fire overseas.

Admitting that Test cricket is the format Rohit wants to excel in, Rohit s current focus is on the three T20I games, the first of which begins on Wednesday. The last time India played a T20 series in Australia, India blanked them 3-0, with Rohit hit two half-centuries to score 143 runs in the series. In the ODI leg too, even though India lost, Rohit scored 441 runs in five games with two hundreds and one half-century at a stunning average of over 110.

“The challenge obviously is red-ball cricket which right now I’m not thinking of. Currently, I’m just looking forward to the T20s and then take it from there,” Rohit said. “I’ve had a good time in Australia playing white-ball cricket. I’ve always enjoyed coming here; it’s a great place to play cricket. Your performance is always appreciated but having said that, the bounce sometimes, in places like Brisbane and Perth, allows me to play my game because I’ve grown up playing on cemented pitches back home.”

India s first T20I is at Brisbane, a venue where Rohit feels batting poses a stiff challenge considering the bounce, and while Australia may be without the star trio of Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood for the T20Is, the likes of Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye and Nathan Coulter-Nile will not make life any easier for the Indian batsmen.

“The reason we flew down here is to get used to the bounce. If I may say so, then Brisbane is probably the fastest pitch in Australia. I’ve not played at the new Perth ground but everytime we have played here (Brisbane), it has always tested us as a batting unit. So we are ready to accept that, change our fortunes and come out with some exceptional performance. It’s not going to be easy, but we’ve got quality in our group,” said India’s vice-captain.

“India have either played at Perth or Brisbane, and this time around it’s the GABBA. The last time we played in Brisbane and not Perth. Like I said, those two pitches are the most challenging; they have bowlers who are tall and who extract bounce and use the conditions to their advantage. Indian batsmen generally are not that tall so obviously it’s not that easy. But the guys are eager to turn things around.”

With two T20I centuries already this year, Rohit has the maximum hundreds in cricket s shortest format with four scores of 100+. Given the kind of form he is in, Rohit has a good enough chance of making it five, although he won t place his bets on it. “I would love to but again I’m a person who doesn’t think too far ahead. I like to keep it simple; try and go out there and enjoy my game. If I do so, I will try and keep it up. But I’ll approach the series the same way I’ve done in any limited-overs game,” Rohit said.