Rohit Sharma feels his maiden double hundred in Test cricket on Sunday against South Africa was by far the “most challenging one” in his new role as an opener. Rohit has had scores of 176, 127 in the first Test against the Proteas and now has hit his maiden double hundred to emulate Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag as players to score 200 across two formats. "Speaking of this particular knock, I would say it was most challenging. I have not played much. I played only 30 Tests. In terms of what was thrown at me, I would definitely say it was probably the most challenging one," the talented Mumbaikar said at the end of day’s play.
He always knew that he had to make best use of the opportunities in his new role as a Test opener or else “a lot could have happened” as far as his stint in the longest format is concerned. “Kafi kuch hone wala thaa naahin toh kaafi kuch aap likh dete mere barein mein (A lot could have happened had I not performed and you guys (media) would have written a lot about me,” a satisfied Sharma said while taking a slight dig at the media.
"So it was about making most of the opportunities I got. I knew I had to make full use of it, otherwise media would have written against me. Now I know everyone will write good things about me," he added. Rohit has amassed 529 runs from four innings thus becoming the only fifth Indian opener to score 500-plus runs in a Test series.
"It was a good opportunity for me to open the batting. As I said during the Vizag Test, the communication between me and my team management was happening for a long time about opening the batting. So mentally, I was ready for it. I knew it could come at anytime."
His double century came after India were left reeling at 39/3 in the first morning as he along with Ajinkya Rahane (115) staged a remarkable turnaround with a mammoth 267-run fourth wickekt partnership, the highest versus South Africa.
While he has had a blockbuster start to his career as a Test opener, Rohit himself acknowledged that he has a long way to go. “In Tests, it has it’s challenges. Having played only three Tests as an opener, I know I have long way to go. I am not reading too much into these three Tests. Of course, I will take a lot of positives but I am not reading too much into it.”
Talking about the challenge of opening the batting, he said,”Opening the batting is a different challenge to batting at Nos 6-7. It’s just about how you prepare yourself, what you talk to yourself in your mind about what do you want to go out there and achieve. "Playing the first ball of the match, compared to facing a delivery after 30-40 overs is a different ball game altogether. There’s nothing in particular that I’ve done in terms of technique."
The 32-year-old is now eyeing to replicate the success overseas when the tour New Zealand next year. “Wherever you play the new ball, you have to have some understanding of the basics of the game. Which ball you have to play and leave. In certain aspects of the game you have to be mindful of.
“I was allowing myself to take time rather than going after the ball straightway. It’s not a good idea with a new ball. You got to play with a little lower backlift. In overseas, of course, it’s a different ball game. That’s a challenge and I am awaiting.” He was all praise for Ajinkya Rahane, whose attacking strokeplay in the post-lunch session on the first day turned the tide.
“Once we went there after lunch (first day), it was Ajinkya, who started taking that momentum. It was he, who actually gave the team the momentum. If I am not wrong, he was batting on 40 off 43 balls just around the first drinks break after lunch which means he capitalised on the loose balls, we got those singles as well,” Rohit praised his partner, with whom he shared 267-run stand. Asked whether he’s keeping a tab of the slew of records, he said: “When you bat, you are not aware of the records. I will see these records only after I stop playing.”