Team India captain Rohit Sharma has revealed that he picked up some key tips on how to manage the spinners at home in Test matches by watching his predecessor Virat Kohli. The editorial stated that for the spinners to have a lasting impact in India, the opposition must be kept in the background.
Rohit-led India beat Australia by an innings and 132 runs in the first Test at Nagpur on Saturday, February 11. The Australians were bowled out for 91 in the second innings as Ravichandran Ashwin took 5/37. In the first innings, left-armer Ravindra Jadeja took a five-fer on his return as Australia were bowled out for 177 after winning the toss and batting first.
Asked about his captaincy philosophy on leading spinners in domestic Tests, Rohit said in the post-match conference:
“When I was playing as a player and Virat was their captain, I noticed that even if we don’t get a wicket, that pressure has to be there for the opponent to make mistakes. I learned that when Virat was captain and these guys were bowling. That’s what I’m trying to do now. Just apply that pressure; don’t get too excited. You have to get on with it.”
On the challenge of captaining quality spinners like Ashwin, Jadeja and Axar Patel, Rohit made an interesting comparison. He expressed his opinion:
“It’s like captaining Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc in Australia. Pretty similar. When you have the quality of Axar, Jadeja and Ash, having played in India for so many years, it is always a blessing. They never disappoint.
“The conditions are there, yes, but you have to go out and extract those conditions as well. They played a lot on such fields. So they know exactly what to do, what areas to hit.”
While Jadeja and Ashwin dominated proceedings, Axar managed just one wicket. However, he made a vital 84 with the bat.
“A lot has been invested in his skills” – Rohit Sharma on Ashwin
While Todd Murphy took seven wickets for Australia on his Test debut, senior non-spinner Nathan Lyon had a poor performance. He managed only one scalp in 49 overs.
On why Ashwin poses a different kind of threat in India as opposed to other spinners, Rohit put it down to experience and skill. He elaborated:
“Ash has played so much cricket in India. He is approaching 100 Test matches and I am pretty sure he has played more Test matches in India. A lot of money was invested in his skills. He can bowl carrom ball, slider and top-spinner.
“The guy has everything. He can get a lot out of his skill. You see him getting better and better every time.”
Having played 89 Tests, Ashwin has taken 457 wickets at an average of 24.05, with 31 five-wicket hauls.