In Nagpur, Rohit scored yet another fine Test century by doing the one thing that most of Australia’s batsmen failed to do: he waited for the ball to come to him, rather than going at it and then addressed it with poise.
A characteristic of Rohit’s batting is the time he seems to have to play even the quickest of bowlers. This doesn’t come in the form of the extraordinary hand-eye co-ordination or reflexes that a Virender Sehwag possessed at the peak of his powers. Rather, it is the ability to pick the line and length of the ball early and then play it as late as possible. When there was turn or variance in bounce from the spinners Rohit was able to adjust his stroke at the last minute, as he was standing still, with a stable base and he could get his hands into the position he wanted.
Against the quick bowlers, Rohit feasts on short balls. In white-ball cricket this has occasionally been his undoing, as he instinctively plays the pull or the hook. The difference in Test cricket is that he plays the same shot but here he rolls his wrists over the ball, ensuring that he keeps it down. Aside from the runs he piled on — an eventual 120 off 200 balls — what would have crushed the Australians was the manner in which he occupied the crease.
Apart from early in his innings, on the first day, when he looked to leave a ball at the last minute and inadvertently deflected it down to third man, Rohit barely played a false shot. While other batsmen were at least getting beaten occasionally on the outside edge, or in the case of Ravindra Jadeja, rapped on the pad by the straight ball from the off spinner, Rohit was in total control.
The first time he offered a chance was on 118 when he nicked Pat Cummins to Steve Smith at slip. Incredibly, one of the safest pairs of hands in the business dropped the chance. It wasn’t costly, however, as Cummins produced a peach off the next ball. Slanting in, drawing the on drive, the ball seamed away a smidge, beating the bat and sending the off-pole cartwheeling. By then, though, Rohit had put India in a strong position, with the scoreboard reading 229 for 6.
It’s been a pretty special couple of days and to top it off with a five-wicket haul on debut is more than I ever hope for and it is going to be something that I’ll look back on for the rest of my life and be proud of
If Australia thought they had finally got a foot in the door, they were dead wrong. Jadeja, who had added 61 with Rohit, took over. Batting with an uncomplicated technique and grim determination to put the game past the opposition, Jadeja added an unbeaten half-century to his fivewicket haul. Typically, against the best opposition, Jadeja finds a way to get the job done.
Since Jadeja’s debut India have won eight of the 12 Tests they have played against Australia. And, of the eight matches against Australia in the same period that Jadeja missed, India have won only two. Axar Patel (52 not out) took a leaf out of Jadeja’s book, scoring a crisp half-century and the two left-handers had taken India to 321/7 by the end of the day.
When the pair rejoin battle on the third morning, they will know that the fate of the game could well be in their hands. Another half an hour of batting together and there will be enough on the board. From there on the two spinners will be fighting to grab the ball and get to work.
BRIEF SCORES AUSTRALIA: 177 (Labuschagne 49; Jadeja 5/47, Ashwin 3/42) trail INDIA 321/7 (Rohit 120, Jadeja 66 batting, Axar 52 batting; Murphy 5/82) by 144 runs at stumps on Day 2
DAY 3 LIVE: on Star Sports, 9:30 am.
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