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3rd Test: Bowlers showed a lot of character in the face of England batters’ onslaught, says Rohit Sharma

Rajkot, Feb 18 2024-

Following a massive 434-run win over England in the third Test at the Niranjan Shah Stadium, India captain Rohit Sharma credited his bowlers for showing character and patience in the face of the onslaught from the visitors’ batters, which in his opinion was one of the turning points of the game.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s overnight withdrawal after day two’s play because of a family medical emergency meant India were one frontline bowler short ahead of day three, as opener Ben Duckett smashed a quick century to lead England’s charge.

But other bowlers stepped up, with Mohammed Siraj taking 4-84 in a strong spell after lunch. Kuldeep Yadav impressed with his pace, turn and variations to take two scalps while Jadeja also picked two wickets and Jasprit Bumrah triggered the collapse by taking out Joe Root as England lost their remaining eight wickets for just 95 runs.

It meant India managed to take a 126-run lead and got the much-needed momentum in the match, which wasn’t a realistic possibility. Eventually, it paved their way to hammer England and take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. “Lots of turning points. Once we won the toss, that was a good toss to win. We know runs on board is important in India. The lead was also crucial for us. The way we came out to bowl after the English batters’ onslaught, important to stay calm. The bowlers showed a lot of character.”

“Not to forget we didn’t have our most experienced bowler too. Was proud to watch the bowlers. Then in our second innings, we knew half the job was done. We wanted to extend the lead, and the two youngsters helped extend it. And then finally Jadeja.”

“When you play Test cricket, you don’t play it in two or three days. You have to stay in the game for five days. They played good shots and put us under pressure but we’ve got class in our squad when it comes to bowling.”

“So obviously the message was to stay calm. Important that time to stay calm, otherwise you drift. We stuck to our plans on day three, and when those things happen, it’s a delight,” said Rohit after the match ended.

Jadeja was returning to the match at his home ground after missing the Visakhapatnam Test due to a hamstring injury. He made his return count by making 112 in the first innings and had a match haul of seven wickets, including a 5-41 in the second innings to bowl out England for 122 in a massive chase of 557.

“For this game, we thought he had so much experience in this format, and scored a lot of runs of late. We also wanted left-right batting as well. Sarfaraz being Sarfaraz, we know his quality, we wanted him to have some time before he comes out to bat.”

“We saw what he can do with the bat. By no means is it some long plan with the batting order, we go with what’s right for us for that Test match. Including calculating what the opponents’ bowling attack is,” added Rohit.

Jaiswal, who retired hurt on 104 due to back cramps on Day Three, remained unbeaten on a career-best score of 214 off 236 balls. He hit 14 fours and 12 sixes and levelled with Wasim Akram for the world record for most sixes in a Test innings. “I’ve spoken a lot about him. I’m sure people outside the changing room have also been talking about him. I want to be calm about him, not talk a lot about him. He’s started his career on a high,” stated Rohit.

England captain Ben Stokes, who faced a chastening defeat in his 100th Test match, feels his team still has it in themselves to fight back in the series. “Ben Duckett played an unbelievable innings, that was the tone we wanted to set with the bat. It was about identifying opportunities to score and push up to their total. With how the wicket was going we wanted to push it on as much as we could.”

“But sometimes that doesn’t work out. Opinions in the dressing room are the ones that matter to us. We’re 2-1 down in the series but still have two games left. We leave this game behind, know we’ve got to win the next two to win the series.” (Agency)

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