Australia vs India – Rohit Sharma ‘happy to bat anywhere’ but not certain opener role will be changed

Rohit Sharma is all but likely to partner Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order must he be cleared to fly for the Tests in Australia, but he is not too fussed over his batting position.

“I can tell you an identical object that I have told everyone all this while. I can be happy to bat wherever the team wants me to, but I do not know whether they would change my role as an opener,” Sharma told PTI.

Having started his career in the middle order, Sharma transitioned to turn out to be a Test opener throughout India’s home series against South Africa final year and found instant success. He topped the series charts with 529 runs in four innings, including three centuries.

The combined tally of 525 runs between Sharma and Agarwal across both innings of the first Test in Vizag is a national record, improving the 414 by Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan. Along the way, Sharma also became the first Indian to score two centuries in his first Test as an opener, having slammed 176 and 127.

After that, he opened just twice in the subsequent series against Bangladesh before an injury ruled him out of India’s most-recent Test series in New Zealand, which they missing 2-0 in February.

“I am certain the guys already in Australia will have to have figured out what are the options when Virat [Kohli] leaves and who are the guys who will open the innings,” he said. “Once I reach there, I can probably have a clearer idea of what is going to happen. I can be okay to bat wherever they would like.”

Sharma wasn’t included in the original Test squad for Australia because of a hamstring injury he suffered throughout the recent IPL in the UAE, which forced him to overlook four games for the Mumbai Indians. He was once, on the other hand, added to the Test squad once it emerged that his injury wasn’t that naughty. He’s currently at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru for rehabilitation. On Saturday, he said the “hamstring is feeling absolutely fine, just started the process of getting it nice and strong”.

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Sharma had featured in just two of the four Tests on India’s preceding tour to Australia in 2018-19, scoring a highest of 63 not out with India on the lookout for a declaration in the first innings of the third Test in Melbourne. But having been on each and every tour to Australia since 2008 – where he first burst into the ODI scene with a match-winning partnership with Sachin Tendulkar in the first of the tri-series finals in Sydney – he felt the surfaces are much more batting-friendly now.

“We talk approximately bounce, but excluding for Perth, during the last few years, the other grounds (Adelaide, MCG, SCG), I don’t believe have that much bounce,” he said. “At the moment, particularly while opening the batting, I can have to consider not playing the cut or pull shots and concentrate on playing in the ‘V’ and as straight as imaginable.”

Some of the better players of the pull shot currently, Sharma is not too perturbed approximately talks around having to take care of the short-pitched stuff from Australia’s pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

“We talk approximately bounce on Australian tracks. But tell me what number of people got out on bouncers throughout the final series?” he asked. “When we played in Perth in 2018-19, it was once Nathan Lyon who got eight wickets including a five-for. In Australia, half the job is done whether you’ll be able to start polite upfront.

“With new ball, whoever bowls – if it’s Starc, Cummins or Hazlewood – they’ll obviously pitch it up, swing the ball and the bouncer would be used sparingly. They would try to verify with the new ball that they would get some movement off the air or off the pitch. With the new ball, everybody on this planet loves to bowl up and send down one bizarre bouncer here and there. So majority of the deliveries will be up and towards the bat and not short.”

Sharma admits playing red-ball cricket after more than a year would be a challenge, but the bottom line is to not think too far ahead.

“It’ll be challenging. In general, international cricket is never easy, whichever format it is,” he said. “When you had one of these long layoff [from international cricket], it becomes the entire more difficult. So I would be that specialize in basics of red-ball cricket and then you’ll be able to top up with other things. That’s how I want to take it forward. You’ll be able to’t just hop the gun and think too far ahead.”

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