Mohali: Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s service to Indian cricket isn’t easy to match but there comes a point when one needs to look forward and give the younger crop a fair run at the Test level, new captain Rohit Sharma said Thursday.
Rahane, with 82 games, and Pujara, with 95 games, have been dropped from the Test squad for the Sri Lanka series and Rohit made it clear that the likes of Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer need to be backed for a solid run.
“Look these are big shoes to fill in. It’s never easy for the guys coming in. Even I don’t know who’s coming in place of Pujara and Rahane. So we have to wait till tomorrow morning to see who’s going to play,” Rohit answered to a question on the impact of the senior duo’s absence from the team.
For Rohit, their and Ishant Sharma’s (100 plus games) contribution to India’s ascendancy in traditional format is immense.
“You can’t put it in words you know, years of hard work, playing 80, 90 Tests, respectively in all those overseas Tests, India getting to No.1, these guys helped us and played a massive part in that. So there’s no such thing that these guys are not being looked upon, and they will definitely be part of our plans,” the skipper said.
“It’s just for now, we didn’t consider that but there is no written guarantee that they will not be considered in future series or thereafter,” he tried to be measured with his words but he too knows that perhaps the train has left the station for the duo.
So how will the new players cope up with the rigours? The skipper feels it will be challenging but they will get their fair share of chances.
“Look whenever there are changes in the squad, there is always a fresh start for guys that are coming in. It’s never easy.
“Those guys (Iyer, Vihari) who are going to replace the two guys, have done exceedingly well whenever they have got an opportunity whether it’s first-class cricket back home or India A tours and limited opportunities that they have got playing Test cricket.”
The skipper wants the younger crop to cement their places and serve Indian cricket for years to come.
“I think we need to back these guys to come good for us. At times, we need to look forward and those guys have been waiting for a while. So hopefully when they get an opportunity, they can turn things around for us.
“It’s not one or two games but I am looking at them to play number of years and win games for India.”
It’s a tough spot in WTC, admits skipper
India are in a spot of bother in World Test Championship (WTC) currently after a draw against New Zealand at home and series defeat in South Africa but the adverse circumstances that a young team will encounter in the near future will build characters.
“I think it’s going to be a challenging one, no doubt about that. We do understand we are in the midway in the WTC table. From hereon now, every single game is important.
“We do understand that…It is very,very important for us to be in present, what we can do in the next Test and the rest that follow. The nine Tests we have (2 vs Sri Lanka, 1 vs England, 2 vs Bangladesh and 4 vs Australia), we have to win almost every game. There will be a lot of pressure,” he admitted.
“But you will build a lot of character and you will see a lot of champion cricketers coming around. That’s my belief, you thrive under pressure, you turn out to be a solid cricketer.”
Gill or Mayank as his opening partner?
Rohit was asked about team combination multiple times but he didn’t take the bait even when quizzed about who is his preferred opening partner — Mayank Agarwal or Shubman Gill.
“I am a captain and I will prefer everyone. I have no preferences like that but we will see and analyse who is the right guy. We will analyse everything and then take a call.
“Mayank, Shubman, Iyer, Vihari, all these guys are brilliant. They are the future of Indian cricket. I think we need to give them a solid run to excel in this particular format. It will start from the management with enough support,” he urged.
Philosophy of captaincy remains same
The red ball captaincy is a different challenge for Rohit but the basics of leading a side, according to him, remain the same.
“My philosophy of captaincy remains the same. That is staying in present and understanding the situation and what is the right call to take at that time. It is important to think one thing at a time and it’s a different format. There is no comparison there.
“It’s the first time I am leading in red ball cricket for India. It’s going to be very exciting. I really can’t wait for it.”
Only 43 Test matches? No regrets, he declares
One saw Rohit’s carefree side when he was asked if he has any regrets of not setting the Test match stage on fire in the past 15 years during which he played only 43 five-day games.
So any targets he has set for himself from hereon?
“Kya sir kya target set karu apne liye. Mera target team ke liye set hai. Main khush hoon 40 matches se, koi regret nahi hai (What target sir? My target is for the team and and I am happy with 40 games. No regrets).
“I have had my share of injuries and my life has seen a lot of ups and downs So I have learnt from these situations and tried to get better.”
Leave a Reply