Wanted to bat in tough conditions to prepare for World Cup: Rohit Sharma

Vastavam web: Stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma Sunday said his side wanted to bat in tough conditions as part of their preparation for the upcoming World Cup and hence chose to take first strike in the fifth ODI here. Rohit said despite knowing that the Westpac Stadium pitch would be fast-bowling friendly with moisture on it, he decided to bat first after winning the toss. His bold decision paid dividends as India won the match by 35 runs to clinch the series 4-1.

“I had a look (of the pitch) before the toss and knew that there was moisture, which would be helpful for the fast bowlers initially. As a team we wanted to see how we face the challenges because come the World Cup we will be put into those situations, so what then,” Rohit said at the post-match conference. The 4-1 scoreline is India’s biggest series win on New Zealand soil across formats since they stated touring the country in 1967, and Rohit said it was a “massive” achievement.

“Coming here and beating New Zealand 4-1 is a massive achievement. They play very good cricket, so it is a great take away for us. Last time we were thrashed 4-0. We didn’t have a point to prove but we just wanted to play good cricket, which we have been doing for the past 8-10 months now,” Rohit said. “New Zealand have got great balance. They bat deep and have a quality bowling line-up, we saw a bit of glimpse of that in last game where they challenged us, so for us 4-1 is a great achievement.”

India’s batting came a cropper in the fourth ODI in seaming conditions in Hamilton as they were dismissed for 92 and eventually lost the match by eight wickets. Rayudu produced one of his best innings to help India post a competitive total and Rohit said it will boost his confidence ahead of the World Cup.

“It would be a massive confidence boost for him (Rayudu) to bat in that situation. At 18 for 4, you need to bail the team out. He has been around for many years and he used his experience well. He is looking very good and I just want him to continue. We have five more games against Australia back home, so if he bats the way he batted, it would be good for us,” he said.

“I won’t be able to comment who would bat at No. 4 in the World Cup but talking about the series, he can take a lot of confidence from the series, he finished off games for us.” Also praising Shankar, Rohit said, “Vijay batted brilliantly and I’m disappointed that he got out unfortunately, he should have got a 50 or even a 100 may be.” India fielded two fast-bowling all-rounders in Hardik Pandya and Shankar for the first time and Rohit said they wanted to try out as many combinations possible ahead of the World Cup.

“Because we will be playing nine games in World Cup, and anything can happen, injuries, being out of form, so we wanted to try our every combination.” The stylish opening batsman also lauded Kedar Jadhav, saying his presence provides balance to the team. “Kedar gives us that balance being a second spinner. I consider him a proper spinner because every game he bowls 6 or 7 overs and gets a wicket as well. Even today, the wicket of Kane Williamson, it was a crucial point. He came and broke that partnership,” he said. Young Shubman Gill could not grab the two opportunities that he got in the last two ODIs but Rohit said the lessons learnt here will go a long way in his career.