Australia v India, 2nd ODI, Brisbane January 14, 2016

Set batsman needs to bat long under new rules - Rohit


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'Even 340 not a safe total anymore' - Rohit

Rohit Sharma has now converted four of his nine hundreds into scores of 150 or more. Only Sachin Tendulkar has more 150s in the history of ODI cricket. The god of big innings, though, feels setting oneself up to bat deep into the innings is going to become more and more important with the new changes in the field restrictions. After the World Cup, the batting Powerplay has been done away with, and the fielding team allowed five fielders outside the 30-yard circle for the last 10 overs. It has, according to Rohit, put the onus on the set batsman to bat through because it is not as easy for the incoming batsman to hit at will.

"I think it's very important [to bat long] now that the rules have changed," Rohit said after his 171 not out in Perth went in vain. "There are only four fielders inside the circle in the last 10 overs. So a set batsman is batting in the middle, it is easier for him than the new batsmen to come and play his shots. So it is very important for the batsman who is set and batting well to carry on as long as possible because that is how you can stretch your target and get to a competitive score.

"That's how I have looked at it always and it is a good opportunity to get past 100 and you challenge yourself, what else you can do after that. So for me after getting a hundred I start another innings, which is starting from zero and scoring another hundred and that's how I look at it. As a batting group our aim has always been one batsman batting through as long as possible so being a top-order batsman it is my responsibility to bat as long as possible and get the team to a good score and a competitive score, and that's how I look at it."

That India's lower middle order has not been contributing heftily of late has forced Rohit's hand too, to some extent. In the Perth ODI, for example, there was a case for pushing on harder after he and Virat Kohli had got a big partnership going. The four overs immediately after the 40th brought India only 26 runs although they managed to score 93 off the last 10 as a whole. Rohit said the inexperience in the middle meant the top order had to take extra responsibility. The team instructions, too, have been similar.

"To be honest when you bat first you actually don't know what is a defendable score," Rohit said when asked if his and Kohli's strike rate was good enough. "You get 340, and again it is not a safe score anymore. When we were batting in the middle the idea was to capitalise and bat as long as possible. Because considering we have got a couple of newcomers in the middle order. So the top three batsmen - myself, Virat and Shikhar [Dhawan] - it is a big responsibility on the three of us to bat as long as possible.

"When we bat we know that we are not too worried about the strike rate because we always know that we could cover in the end, and that's exactly what happened. In the last 10 overs we scored about 90-95 runs. So I think 309 was a pretty good score on that track, but the Aussies batted really well to get that score, and if you don't take wickets in the middle it is always going to be difficult especially here in Australia."

Rohit emphasised the ability to take those middle-overs wickets, which India manage to do on slower and turning pitches. After MS Dhoni after the first match, Rohit's words too put the focus back on R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who looked ineffective and conceded both singles and boundaries regularly in the middle overs.

"Our morale is very good because we played very good cricket, and we know that," Rohit said. "Only thing is we need to learn how to take wickets in the middle. How to build the pressure in the middle overs, that is something we need to be aware of. Whoever is bowling in the middle, spinners or fast bowlers, just need to make it a habit of making breakthrough in the middle because it is very important. If wickets fall in the middle then it affects the momentum of the opposition team. That is what we need to do this game because we batted well, we bowled well with the new ball, but were halted in the middle because we didn't take wickets in the middle. That is what we have to learn."

Looking at such a high chase achieved with ease, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar wrote in a column that the white ball has left bowlers on a hiding to nothing. Gavaskar asked for the use of pink ball in ODIs, but Rohit respectfully disagreed, saying batting against the white ball was not as easy as it seemed.

"I am not too sure because it doesn't really matter what I say here," Rohit said about Gavaskar's comments. "Nothing is going to change, but I don't agree that white ball doesn't do anything. If you play in tough conditions it is a nightmare for the batsmen. When you play with two new balls, when the conditions are against the batsmen, and when it is overcast, the ball tends to swing a lot and there is seam movement as well. So that's how I look at it and that is my personal opinion on that."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Xiong on January 15, 2016, 3:15 GMT

    What a lovely rule change for Rohit. Another seemingly legitimate excuse to be selfish and guard his wicket until the very end and boost his stats, regardless of the cost to his team and country. How can any player in this day and age blame a bowler? There's NOTHING in short form pitches for bowlers. If they do well we should sing their praises and if they don't we should accept that as being the norm, because it is. Blaming them for not being magicians is just stupid. Batsmen failing on the other hand...

  • Sarang on January 15, 2016, 3:11 GMT

    "When we bat we know that we are not too worried about the strike rate".. Mr Sharma, that's not smart cricket. Smart cricket is to keep rotating strike on every ball (at least try to) and when you get a bad one, hit a big one. You hit a six and then, defend 2-3 balls which you could have perfectly placed it for single. This is NOT test cricket. There needs to be some urgency like Kohli or Smith or Bailey. Even Sachin did that. He hardly had any dots but Rohit Sharma's innings always has plenty of dots. Don't know what he is thinking when he is playing those dots. You will not be able to make up for it in the end every time especially against good bowlers. This is common sense but our hero thinks he just needs to be there. There's no point in having the best technique in the world if you don't have the right attitude. Cricinfo, plz publish.

  • Anit on January 15, 2016, 2:52 GMT

    India needed 350 plus score on this flat wicket. The set batsmen failed to raise the run rate to right level when needed, specially in the last 20 overs. Both Sharma and Kohli needs to be blamed for it. There was no point in playing so slow with only one wicket lost at 30 over mark.

  • twelthman12 on January 15, 2016, 2:39 GMT

    Both teams have a strong batting lineup. I feel Australia will have the edge in Gabba as they have better bowling for this condition. I feel the pitch will not be favouring spin.

  • Android on January 15, 2016, 1:45 GMT

    Antes - you comment about losing less wickets meaning India bowled better is totally incorrect. Cricket is a game where runs indicaye the winner. The fact that Australia won automatically indicates Australia bowled and batted better than India. additionally there is also syrong evidence in that India only lost 3 wickets in compiling the score leaning toward Australia doing s better job at containing batsmen than India. R.Sharmas comments about set batsmen goimg on with it are nothing geound breaking. Everyone knows that it is easier to play big shots when your eye is in as opposed to having to go from the start.

  • Vinay on January 15, 2016, 0:49 GMT

    40 avg, 90 strike rate (last 2 years even better) but people always blame Rohit. he does not deserve a place in the test team given his test form, but ODIs? Not his fault that there is no pinch hitter like Yusuf Pathan (strike rate 118 in ODIs) at 6, it's the selectors fault. Maybe Rishi Dhawan can play pinch hitter and also bowl 6-10 overs. In India Jadeja can, but overseas, his bowling is mauled.

  • Mohsin on January 15, 2016, 0:29 GMT

    I think even 350 would not have been enough. The Aussies literally strolled their way to d total in d last 10 overs & playing risk-free cricket in the middle overs. Ashwin & Jadeja were stunned by the attacking batting of Smith & Bailey. The pitch being flat didn't help either. Gabba will certainly be better than Perth as seen in d last Tests played der

  • Sushreyo on January 15, 2016, 0:13 GMT

    Rohit is trying to justify his stand of selfish batting at a time when he could have gone for broke and attempted 20-30 runs more on the total. If he himself agrees that even 340 is not safe nowadays (which is absolutely right), how come he never pushed hard enough to get beyond 309? Honestly, given the position we were in after 30 overs, even a semi-major screw up in attempting to score at a faster pace would have seen us getting somewhere in he range of 300.

  • Pr on January 14, 2016, 22:34 GMT

    As others have said, it is better to have 3 players cumulatively scoring 150+ at a 200 S/R rather than one person doing it at at a 100 S/R. I hope Dhoni sees the light in this.

  • ADARSH on January 14, 2016, 21:21 GMT

    running between the wickets win matches. its important for the batsmen to take hard singles and doubles and keep the scoreboard ticking

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