INDIA TOUR OF AUSTRALIA 2018
Cricbuzz Staff •
Rohit stressed “there’s a real good feeling inside the group” as India aim to pull off the perfect away tour. © AFP
Rohit Sharma has had a rollicking 2018 in the shortest format of the game. In 16 innings, India’s limited-overs mainstay has amassed 560 runs at a strike rate of 148.93. His returns are 16 short of the table-topper this year, but scoring two 100s – attaining an unmatched tally of four of them in the format. As he returns to a country where he has found a lot of white-ball success – 1143 ODI runs at a staggering 51.95, two fifties in five T20I innings – there’s anticipation for a third T20I hundred of the year. On his part, he says he’d ‘love to’ pull such a feat off, but remains wary and realistic of the challenge ahead.
The two 100s this year came against England in Bristol and Windies in Lucknow, but the sort of bounce that the pacers tend to extract in Brisbane – venue of the first T20I – will not make batting easy. Rohit, though, reckons the extra bounce sometimes allows him to play his game, thanks to prior relevant training. “Brisbane, if I may say so, is the fastest pitch in Australia. I’ve not played at Perth in the new stadium. Whenever we’ve played here in Brisbane, it has always challenged us, and as a batting unit we’re ready to accept that and this time around we want to change our fortunes and come out with some exceptional performance. It’s not going to be that easy, but we understand that,” Rohit said.
“I’ve had my good times in Australia playing white-ball cricket. The bounce when sometimes you play in places like Brisbane and Perth, the good bounce allows me to play my game because I’ve grown up playing on cement pitches back home, so I always enjoy coming here.”
Both Rohit and the Indian team overall have fond memories of touring Australia for T20Is. After being thoroughly dominated [lost 1-4] in the ODIs in 2016, India bounced back with a 3-0 series win in the T20Is – which gives them an additional reason to believe in pulling off favourable results, come Wednesday. “If I look at the limited-overs leg, the last time we were here  – particularly the T20 series, we won 3-0. Yes it is challenging for all our batsmen when we come around here but again, most of guys have come to Australia before. So they understand the conditions. Of course their [Australia’s] bowling attack will challenge us whichever format we play, but as a batting unit we are prepared to face that challenge.
“The first time I came here, I remember, in 2007, had a good time. So I’ve done well in limited-overs, but the challenge obviously is red-ball cricket, which right now I am not thinking of. Right now I just want to do well in the T20 format and take it from there.”
India have fared reasonably well in the limited-overs format away from home recently. They were beaten in the Tests in South Africa, but emerged victorious in both ODI and T20I series earlier this year. In England too, they were undone in whites, but managed to win the T20I series. With David Warner and Steve Smith missing, and a lot of off-field chaos having an impact on the results on the field, there’s perhaps a very good chance for India to pull off a perfect away series. Rohit reckoned Australia happens to be one place where the team wants to leave their mark.
“Whenever we travel outside India, there’s always a special feeling. Especially in Australia. It’s one place where we want to leave our mark and do well as a unit. The last time we played Test series here, although we lost two games, and drew one game, I thought there were a few close games being played – especially at Brisbane.
“It was a close game, but again, we want to make it count this time around. There’s a real good feeling inside the group in all three formats. The motive of the team is to try and seize all the moments and try and win tournaments. When you do well in places like Australia, you feel good as a team and thinking about the World Cup ahead, it can only give you confidence.”
The full-tour kick-starts with three T20Is – from November 21 – and then proceeds to the four-Test series from December 6 before culminating in the three-match ODI series.