Rohit Sharma has been one of India's top ODI batsmen over the last couple of years © Getty Images
Rohit Sharma has been one of India’s top ODI batsmen over the last couple of years © Getty Images

By Kushan Sarkar

New Delhi: Oct 5, 2014

Gearing up for the pace test that awaits India in Australia come December, batsman Rohit Sharma said the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle would be a tough challenge to deal with but the Indians are no longer intimidated by bouncy tracks Down Under.

“Australia will be a challenging tour for us. Mentally, each and every cricketer have a different way of preparing or doing their respective homework for a tour. I am no different and I will also have my plans in place as we come nearer to the time of the tour,” Rohit told PTI in an interview.

“Facing the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris will be a stern test. But we have faced Dale Steyn, More Morkel in South Africa. We have played on bouncy as well as seaming pitches in South Africa, New Zealand and England in the past one year. “Also, most of us have been to Australia before and know what to expect from pitches out there. Also it will be a good preparation for us before the World Cup, next year,” he explained.

The tour includes four Test matches starting December 4 in Brisbane. The series’ other games will be played in Adelaide (December 12 to 16), Melbourne (December 26 to 30) and Sydney (January 3 to 7). After a break, the ODI tri-series will start on January 16, the finale of which will take place on February 1 in Perth.

Rohit has been more consistent as a batsman after he started opening the batting for India in the ODIs and he admitted as much. “Opening the batting for India changed me as a player. My perspective on building an innings has improved tremendously since I started opening the batting. I believe I have become a better overall cricketer once I started opening the batting,” said Rohit.

Ajinkya Rahane has also done well as an opener in England ODIs and Rohit does not feel that there is any competition between him and the fellow Mumbaikar. “I have loved my role as an opener but I am proud of what Ajinkya has achieved in England. For me, it does not matter which position I am batting as long as I am making a contribution to team’s cause. If I am told to open by the team management, I would humbly accept it and if I told to bat in the middle-order, it will be an equal honour. I have no choices or preferences as far as batting slots are concerned,” said Rohit.

The right-hander was castigated from all quarters for playing a lofted drive at the stroke of tea time during India’s third Test against England at Southampton but the 27-year-old does not regret playing that shot against off-spinner Moeen Ali. “I agree that the dismissal at Southampton is one of the disappointing ones in my international career. But if you ask whether I regret playing that shot, then I would say ‘no’.

“I had a plan in my mind but I couldn’t execute that plan properly. The dejection is there because of non-execution,” Rohit, who is nursing a shoulder injury and fractured finger, said.

He then gave a technical explanation to his answer. “I had already hit Moeen Ali for two fours at that point of time. The idea was not to let a part-time offie dominate us. I was batting freely and had started middling the ball. Myself and Ajinkya were having a good partnership (74 runs). I didn’t want to get into a shell. It was a tossed up delivery and I came too close to the pitch of delivery and couldn’t get the required elevation. That ball might have gone for a six,” said the stylish Mumbai batsman.

Rohit, who had to return home with a fractured finger during the England series, said he is on course for a comeback soon. “You feel bad but in sports injuries will happen and I have learnt to live with it. I am in a happy space as far as my rehabilitation is concerned. I am aiming to make a comeback during the Test series but will only come back when I am completely match-fit,” said Rohit, who has so far played 7 Tests apart from 124 ODIs and 42 T20 Internationals.

On a different note, when asked whether he would like some extra padding on his gloves since he has now had a fracture twice, the batsman answered in the negative. “I know a lot of batsman use extra cushion on their gloves but I have never felt comfortable with that idea of using extra padding on my gloves. I feel that my hand manoeuvring will suffer due to that,” he said.