India’s senior most bowler Ishant Sharma today spilled the beans on why Ajinkya Rahane went all guns blazing at the start of his innings, saying it was vital to counter-attack the opposition so as to change Australia’s game plan.
“Rahane added a quickfire of 20-30 runs and they were really needed at that time. If they had played defence then Australia would have stayed on their plans and it was important for him to counter attack to force them to change plans,” Ishant said during a press conference.
Indian batsmen were heavily criticised during the first Test for playing attacking shots at the start of the innings after most of them departed early without contributing much to the score board.
Asked about Virat Kohli’s innings after he saved the day for India scoring 82 runs, he said, “Whenever Virat is batting, we feel confident. We finished the day in a strong position. Hopefully, they both will continue. The game is in the balance right now. Hopefully, we will dominate the first session tomorrow,” he said.
Captain Kohli stitched a cruicial 90-run partnership with his deputy Rahane after the team went through early dismissal of the openers. India were reeling at 8 runs at the loss of two wickets after 6 overs. But before them, Pujara played an important innings as he stayed on the wicket, but couldn’t contribute much to India’s total of 172-3 in reply to Australia’s 326 all out.
“When Pujara defends, the ball doesn’t go past the square. I have played against him and I know how difficult it is to bowl at him. He makes the bowlers tired. I knew if he stays he can do wonders. It was unfortunate the way he got out. We don’t get those wickets that easily, going down leg and caught behind. Then, Jinx and Virat played pretty good shots which shifted momentum in our side and we ended the day pretty well,” he added.
The drop-in pitch at Perth was difficult to fathom as it remained inconsistent throughout on both the days. The performance of the Indian bowlers did not live up to the hype on day one and according to Sharma the first hour was best to bat on.
“I think the wicket was really slow at that time. It wasn’t as up and down as it was after lunch when there was something there for the bowlers. The first hour was the best time to bat on at that wicket,” the senior bowler said.
Sharma heaped praise on his partner Jasprit Bumrah after his brilliant spell in the first innings. Bumrah took important wickets of Finch and Tim Paine at crucial juncture who were batting at a score of 50 and 38 respectively.
“I don’t think he is improving. When he made his debut, he had already improved (from a white-ball cricketer). That is why he was picked. The good thing about him is he gives his heart out and you only need to support him. Maybe he was beating the bat couple of times but he was bowling 140 every single time. He never gives up, which is the best sign for any fast bowler,” Ishant said.
Ishant did not mince words for Australian media when the focus had turned to no balls after the first day’s play. The marquee bowler was guilty of bowling no balls that did not come to umpire’s notice in the first Test. Kohli had revealed that Sharma was disappointed after bowling no balls that could have been wickets for the Indian team.
“Maybe Australian media should answer the question. Not me,” Ishand said.