Port Elizabeth: India vice-captain Rohit Sharma is glad that his return to form coincided with his team’s maiden ODI series triumph on South African soil but insisted that he wasn’t unsettled by the preceding low scores either. Sharma struck a match-winning 115 in the fifth one-dayer here yesterday, a pivotal knock in India’s 73-run triumph, which gave the side an unassailable 4-1 lead in the six-match series. The inconsequential sixth ODI is scheduled to be held on February 16 in Centurion. The hundred came at a crucial juncture for Sharma, who had drawn flak for his indifferent run so far. In fact, the right-hander improved a rather pitiful record in South Africa with his 17th ODI ton. He had scored only 40 runs in the first four games.
“I got out in three matches only, how can you say form is bad after three matches? You guys put people in good form after one match, and if somebody doesn’t have three good matches, you say he is in bad form,” Sharma quipped. “In 2013 it was different. I had just turned into an opener from a middle-order batsman. The way I am batting now, it has evolved a lot. Whatever happened before 2013 and in 2013, forget about that,” he added, referring to his poor past record in South Africa. Sharma said it was just not fair to declare anybody a failure or success on the basis of two or three performances.
“I admit the first three matches weren’t great but that happens with everybody. But I was in a good frame of mind, I was batting well in the nets and there was no pattern to my dismissals. That happens in every cricketer’s career,” he added. Sharma said he kept following his routines in the belief that a big knock was just around the corner. “…such a situation does come that you are trying your hardest but things don’t come off. So, at that point it is important that you relax, take a step back and think about what you need to do in the next game because every day is a new day…,” said Sharma.\R The stylish batsman said just as one or two failures don’t define him, one hundred cannot make him complacent. “My hundred has gone now and in the next game I play, the hundred I scored isn’t going to matter much.
So it is important to stay in the present and this is what we talk about in our dressing room. “If you trust your routines, you won’t have to wait too long for results. Like I did, and I knew that a big score was coming and I just have to be in that zone, not get completely bogged down and start worrying about my batting,” he added. Last night’s win also assured India of the No.1 spot in the ICC rankings. Apart from Sharmaâ€™s knock, the highlight of Indiaâ€™s batting were two run-outs as he watched both Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane getting dismissed after horrendous mix ups. It changed Sharma’s mindset about celebrating his return to form with a fine century.
Additionally, Indiaâ€™s middle order garnered only 55 runs for 4 wickets in the last 10 overs once again, showcasing their keen dependency on the top order. “If their (middle-order) batting doesn’t come so we cannot do anything. If we are playing well, we cannot come back retired hurt. Top three have got the best opportunity because they get to play maximum balls,” Sharma said. “Two guys got run out before me so there was nothing to celebrate about. It depends on what kind of mood you are in. Two of our batsmen got run out, so I wanted to carry on and the celebration was not in my mind at all,” he added.
Sharma said he realised quite early in the innings that it was the not the wicket to go for a 300-plus score. “I just wanted to keep batting as long as possible and get the team to a decent target. We realised at one point, after 20-25 overs, that it’s not a 300-wicket because the pitch was getting slower and shot-making wasn’t easy. Sharma felt his team managed put up a decent enough total on board even though the score was nowhere near a winning one. “…270 was a par score, definitely not a winning score but a par score. But again the kind of bowlers that we have in our ranks, it would have made life difficult for the South African batsmen.
As we saw the pitch was getting slower and there was lot of turn for spin bowlers,” he said. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shared six wickets but Hardik Pandya played the major role picking 2-30 in nine overs. He also affected a run out and took a one-handed catch. “It was very important to win with five bowlers. It will give a lot of confidence to those guys. Hardik has come a long way since he made his debut. He understands what the team expects of him. He is a proper all-rounder. Not a batsman who can bowl or a bowler who can bat, we expect him to come out and bowl 10 overs all the time,” said the vice-captain.
“The way Hardik came out and bowled in the middle, at the start and towards the end as well. He got crucial breakthroughs. So I think it will give him a lot of confidence going forward,” he added. India are sure to make some changes for the sixth one-dayer, although the vice-captain said the team will be going all out for a 5-1 scoreline ahead of the three-match T20I series. “We will approach that game in the same manner that we have approached the last five games. It is important to keep doing the right things because it doesn’t happen in South Africa that your are 4-1 up and we will definitely try to make it 5-1 at Centurion,” Sharma signed off.