World Cup: India captain Rohit Sharma warms up in style ahead of high-voltage clash against Pakistan

Some days there would be swing and some days there won’t, so you have to adjust your lengths accordingly, says Jasprit Bumrah

New Delhi October 12 dmanewsdesk: Rohit Sharma played just the kind of innings he needed going into the high-octane clash against a buoyant Pakistan.

The India captain warmed up in style here, ahead of Saturday’s marquee clash against Babar Azam and Co. in Ahmedabad, slamming an electrifying 84-ball 131 which guided India to a thumping eig­ht-wicket win over Afghanistan. Wednesday’s victory came with as many as 15 overs to spare at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

The knock also helped Rohit (7) surpass Sachin Tendulkar to register the most number of centuries in the 50-over World Cup.

For sure the Afghan bowling attack, except for a few of their tweakers, is far from being the strongest in this World Cup. On Saturday, the Pakistan quicks will need to get their line and length right to contain Rohit.

Having said that, for someone who was dismissed for no­ught in his team’s Cup opener, such a blazing knock — unleashing 16 boundaries and five maximums — will surely help him approach the upcoming high-pressure game with a much better frame of mind.

“When you have all-round players, things take care of themselves. In World Cups, you need to respond with different styles of play,” Rohit said later.

“We are looking at the India-Pakistan match like we did this game… Don’t want to worry about the external favours. We’ll treat every game like that… how the pitch plays, conditions and combinations, etc,” the India captain added.

Afghanistan’s 272/8, riding half-centuries from captain Hashamtullah Shahidi (80) and Azmatullah Omarzai (62) after they won the toss and opted to bat first, was a challenging total but not at all a match-winning one on this batsmen-friendly Kotla surface. One thought maybe the Indian batsmen had some sort of a task ahead, but Rohit kept middling the ball brilliantly right from the onset.

The ‘Rohit Storm’ wasn’t at all about power-hitting. Just clean hitting coupled with immaculate timing and superb hand-eye coordination. Taking no credit away from the skipper, the mediocre Afghanistan bowling too smoothened the road for Rohit.

Precisely, the stuff dished out by their quicks Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul Haq, who was targeted by a section of the Kotla crowd with “Kohli, Kohli” chants (following his exchange of words with Virat Kohli during the IPL), was absolutely below par.

One also wonders why Rashid Khan, who eventually got Rohit out, didn’t come on to bowl earlier than at a time when the India captain had almost taken the game away from Afghanistan.

Playing at home, Virat Kohli (55 not out), too, had a good batting practice on way to his second consecutive fifty in the competition, while Ishan Kishan (47) and Shreyas Iyer (25 not out) — the other two falling for nought alongside Rohit on Sunday — also spent some time at the crease.

Bumrah’s strikes

With Mohammed Siraj being expensive, pace spearhead Ja­sprit Bumrah’s 4/39 was crucial in denting Afghanistan’s progress after the 121-run fo­urth-wicket stand between Sh­ahidi and Omarzai raised their hopes of a total closer to 300.

No wonder Shahidi’s poor shot selection off Kuldeep Yadav after batting so well helped shift the momentum in India’s favour. But Bumrah’s three wickets at the death, including those of big-hitters Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan, with excellent variation of pace and length, denied the Afghans some crucial runs.

“I read the wickets and the batsmen’s mind. Some days there would be swing and some days there won’t, so you have to adjust your lengths accordingly. I tried to hit the hard lengths and made them play shots. That was the plan,” Bumrah said at the news conference later.

Source: The Telegraph online