However, Rohit had every reason to feel upset. It was not your typical, flamboyant Rohit was on show on the first day of the second Test against England at the Lord’s. He played without rush, cautious outside the off-stump, his footwork was precise and judged the length to perfection.
Rohit and his opening partner KL Rahul had a massive task at hand once England skipper Joe Root asked India to bat first under overcast skies. Rohit and Rahul had formidable foes to negotiate in James Anderson, Robinson, Sam Curran and Mark Wood, each bowlers brought something different to the table and could have been lethal in conditions made to order for them.
To begin with, Rohit accepted the fact that England bowlers will have upper hand, so he needed to bat with caution. It was evident in the scoreboard – the first 10 overs produced 11 runs and the first 60 minutes 35 runs and the first session a mere 46 runs. It was not the scoring rate you would expect to see when batsmen like Rohit and Rahul are batting together.
The pattern was similar to their effort in the first Test at Trent Bridge when Rohit and Rahul added 97 runs for the first wicket, and here they went past that mark and added 126 runs. The magnitude of their effort was reflected in this piece of stat – this was India’s highest opening stand outside Asia since 2010.
In a recent interview with Dinesh Karthik on Sky Sports, Rohit offered a peek into his mindset and preparedness to play in England.
“I know when I’m playing the bowler, I have to be ready. Every batsman is challenged by the bowler. You just have to be on top of your mindset and game. There is no time as guys are quick enough to rattle you. Technically you can say he (Rohit) is playing the ball late, as there are different styles of batsmanships,” Rohit had said.
Here Rohit was challenged by Anderson and Robinson in particular and he tackled that challenge head on. But the Mumbaikar was not just dour. Rohit remains one of the most successful batsmen in white ball cricket, and that instinct to punish loose balls came to the fore when Curran erred in line and length.
Rohit carved four boundaries in an over off the left-arm pacer, a reminder of his destructive abilities. Or like when he pulled a Wood’s short-pitched ball in its high 140s for a four.
But at the Lord’s, Rohit’s aggression was an aberration as he concentrated more on giving India a strong launch pad along with Rahul. You can safely assume that Rohit has found that fine balance between attack and defence on this series so far.
Rohit admitted as much. “Once you get the feel of the pitch, once you get the feel of the conditions then maybe you can try and play some shots but I think it is important to respect the conditions here. As a batting group, we have done reasonably well right from Australia tour till today, I think batters now understand their role,” he said after the match during the virtual press conference.
But all of it could have undone in that one moment – a sheepish wasp of bat outside the off-stump against Robinson. Rohit lived on for some more runs before Anderson did that Anderson thing, an inswinger rattling the stumps. It prolonged Rohit’s wait for his first Test hundred away from home.
In fact, this is 34-year-old Rohit’s first Test tour to England and it came 8 years after his Test debut and 14 years after his international debut. There might have been some doubts about his ability to withstand the craft of Anderson and company, a bowling unit that has given torrid time to the best.
But Rohit has already found some answers. Never mind, he had to travel a different route for that!
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