Team India captain Rohit Sharma has revealed that he picked up some crucial tips on how to lead spinners at home in Test matches by observing his predecessor Virat Kohli. The opener stated that for spinners to make a constant impact in India, the opposition has to be kept on the back foot.
Rohit-led India hammered Australia by an innings and 132 runs in the first Test in Nagpur on Saturday, February 11. The Aussies were bundled out for 91 in their second innings as Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 5/37. In the first innings, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja picked up a five-fer on his comeback as Australia folded up for 177 after winning the toss and batting first.
Asked about his captaincy philosophy with regard to leading spinners in home Tests, Rohit said at a post-match conference:
“When I was playing as a player and Virat was captaining them, I noticed that even if we don’t get a wicket, that pressure has to be there so that the opposition makes a mistake. That is something I learnt when Virat was captaining and these guys were bowling. That is what I am trying to do now. Just apply that pressure; don’t get too excited. You’ve got to keep at it.”
On the challenge of captaining quality spinners like Ashwin, Jadeja, and Axar Patel, Rohit made an interesting comparison. He opined:
“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’s always a blessing. They never disappoint.
“The conditions are there, yes, but you’ve got to come out and extract those conditions as well. They have played on such pitches a lot. So, they know exactly what to do, which areas to hit.”
While Jadeja and Ashwin dominated proceedings, Axar only managed one wicket. However, he contributed a vital 84 with the bat.
“Lot of overs have gone into his skills” – Rohit Sharma on Ashwin
While Todd Murphy claimed seven wickets for Australia on his Test debut, senior off-spinner Nathan Lyon had a poor game. 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 attributed it to experience and skill. He elaborated:
“Ash has played so much cricket in India. He’s closing in on 100 Test matches and I am pretty sure he has played more Test matches in India. Lot of overs have gone into his skills. He can bowl the carrom ball, slider and top-spinner.
“The guy’s got everything. He’s able to extract a lot because of his skillset. He’s getting better and better you see him each time.”
Having played 89 Tests, Ashwin has claimed 457 wickets at an average of 24.05, with 31 five-wicket hauls.