The legendary Sunil Gavaskar, cricket expert Sanjay Manjrekar and Team India veteran Dinesh Karthik tore into Rohit Sharma for his “strange” tactics on Day 1 of the fourth Test against Australia in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
Cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar was baffled by Rohit Sharma’s decision to take the new ball immediately after Australia lost Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb in quick succession.
“This is where it’s interesting. When you watch cricket in the 80s and 90s, when the second new ball was available, there was a lot of thought given to whether we should go for it because the old ball was working well enough for you. This is a pitch where magic won’t happen, the second new ball is not going get you 4-5 wickets. it’s not impossible, but it’s highly unlikely. Teams mulled over and saw whether the old ball was good enough. But, India went for the attacking option, took the 2nd new ball,” Sanjay Manjrekar said on Star Sports.
“This was slightly on the cards because it was a flat pitch, the spinners were not going to get anything out of it. The seam bowlers were bowling well with the old ball. India had got a couple of quick wickets.”
“Maybe, they could have carried on with the old ball for another 10 overs. if they would have found out that nothing was happening with the old ball, then they should have picked the 2nd new ball. The second new ball in these conditions is a double-edged sword. Cameron Green has got it eyes in,” Sanjay Manjrekar added.
Even Paras Mhambrey, India’s bowling coach, agreed with Sanjay Manjrekar’s assessment. According to him, the home side gave away too many easy runs to Australia once Rohit Sharma employed the new ball after 80 overs of action in Ahmedabad.
“First session, they batted well,” Paras Mhambrey conceded.
“Initially, the runs that were leaked and the second session were good for us but as the ball got old, run-scoring became difficult and the last session became difficult. We conceded 56 in the last 10 overs and I thought the game slightly drifted there from us. At the end of the day, if it was 220 for 4, it would have been good for us. Yes, we gave slightly more runs in the last session.”
“No, I think as the game progress, may be third session tomorrow there could a little turn and you saw a couple of balls did turn but nothing compared to what you saw earlier. You may see little turn from third day, there will be little help for spinners,” he added.
“New ball came out of the bat better and made scoring runs easier but Rohit must have thought that nothing was happening on that wicket, so at least with spinners, new ball will go through nicely,” Paras Mhambrey explained.
“Had we picked up a couple of wickets, we would have been talking differently. That’s fine and that will happen.”
The Indian Cricket Team’s last-hour performance with the new ball also earned them the wrath of the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, who opined that the hosts let the game slip away with their poor show there.
“It’s best to have the conversation after a little while, not immediately. Because they will be very disappointed with their effort in the last hour after having taken the second new ball, to concede the number of runs they did and to concede the number of boundaries that they did. It was almost as if the Australians broke free when the second new ball was taken,” Sunil Gavaskar said.
“The first couple of overs from your new ball bowlers, that’s not what you want to see when you have got a brand new ball in your hand. The effort could have been better. I know it was a hot day, it takes a lot out of the fast bowlers. But you have got a brand new ball, playing for India, I think the effort could have been a little bit better. Any conversation about the showing can be had tomorrow morning, let the bowlers themselves mull over what they did today,” he concluded.
Much like Sunil Gavaskar, and Sanjay Manjrekar, Dinesh Karthik wasn’t impressed with Rohit Sharma’s tactics at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Gujarat.
“I liked it for the large part of the day. He was proactive in field placings. He didn’t use the usual method of keeping silly point, short leg. There wasn’t a single bat pad and the ball didn’t lob up or anything. He kept things tight consistently. After the first hour, he pulled it back, got 4 wickets. Then during that middle phase when Smith and Khawaja were playing, he held it tight and didn’t give them easy boundaries,” Dinesh Karthik told Cricbuzz.
“But I think him taking the new ball at that stage wasn’t a great decision. In the hindsight he should have looked back and said ‘Should I have bowled 9 overs with it? Or maybe 4-5? That is one. And second. Axar Patel is a very interesting case study in Rohit Sharma’s captaincy so far. He’s got 2 pillars of Indian cricket in Jadeja and Ashwin and he is giving them a large volume of overs. But where is Axar Patel in the mix – the third spinner? We have seen him do well with the new ball; at least if you’ve taken the new ball, could he have taken the opportunity to bowl with it? He’s got bounce, it’s his home conditions,” Dinesh Karthik mentioned.
“Also we have to remember that as a captain when you’ve got 3 spinners, it’s always hard. Spinners bowl longer spell but you also get the feeling that he has under-bowled Axar to a point. It looks good when you’re winning; when you’re not it appears a problem. I wouldn’t fault Rohit too much for it. But is there something Rohit can do to change in Test matches which are aiding spinners,” the veteran India wicketkeeper batter summed up.
Besides being slammed by former cricketers, Rohit Sharma’s questionable behavior led to his bashing on social media.
His “shameful” behavior during Day 1 of the fourth Test between India and Australia in Ahmedabad made him one of the top trends on Twitter on Thursday.
The India captain coped with a lot of criticism after videos showed him “manhandling” Ishan Kishan, who offered a water bottle to Rohit Sharma.
However, when he was carrying the bottle, it slipped out of his hand and fell to the ground. When Ishan Kishan returned to collect it from Rohit Sharma, the Nagpur-born superstar tried to hit him, but the wicketkeeper batter escaped.
This angered Team India supporters, who accused Rohit Sharma of treating the team’s young players as his slaves, while others claimed that he was “disrespecting” Ishan Kishan.