Managing two relentless master craftsmen was the greatest pressure on me, says Rohit

With personal milestones in sight, neither Ashwin nor Jadeja wanted to let go of the ball, says India skipper; with a combined tally of 700-plus Test wickets, the duo has been literally unplayable, especially at home

Updated - February 12, 2023 06:42 pm IST

Published - February 12, 2023 04:35 pm IST - Nagpur

Relishing a challenge: Ashwin and Jadeja give captain Rohit the pleasantest of headaches on the field.

Relishing a challenge: Ashwin and Jadeja give captain Rohit the pleasantest of headaches on the field. | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

Rohit Sharma admitted he was under the pump during Australia’s second innings on Saturday. Not because of any Australian batter’s resistance but because neither of his two primary spinners wanted to let go of the ball.

“Jadeja was on 249 (Test) wickets and he was telling me: ‘Mereko ball de (give me the ball)’. Ashwin was on four wickets and he wanted five and that was the challenge I faced,” Rohit revealed.

“I really don’t know too much about milestones, but these guys know about it. So, yeah, that’s the challenge of captaining them.”

Jokes apart, no captain could have asked for a better spin duo in his armoury than Ashwin and Jadeja. With a combined tally of 700-plus Test wickets, the two have been literally unplayable in their backyard. And, it was evident during the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, when Australia couldn’t bat 100 overs in both innings combined.

Home record

India’s envious record at home over the last decade is largely a result of the duo’s decimation of opposition line-ups in a manner similar to the one witnessed at Jamtha over the last three days. No wonder then India has been at its dominant best with the duo in its ranks, especially at home.

Of the 37 Tests Ashwin and Jadeja have played together at home, India has won a whopping 29, losing a solitary Test (Pune, 2017). Add Axar Patel’s accuracy to the mix and it becomes a lethal combination to face in sub-continental conditions.

“It’s like captaining (Pat) Cummins, (Josh) Hazlewood and (Mitchell) Starc in Australia. Pretty similar. When you have the quality of Axar, Jadeja and Ash, having played in India for so many years, playing on pitches like these, it’s always a blessing,” Rohit said.

“The conditions are there, yes, but you need to exploit them. The conditions are there for everyone, but what they extract from those conditions makes them really, really special. They have played on these pitches a lot and they know which areas to hit, how to keep applying that pressure,” Rohit said.

Rohit added that he learnt the art of handling top-notch spinners like Ashwin and Jadeja, besides juggling a third, from his predecessor Virat Kohli.

“When Virat was captaining, I noticed one thing: even if we don’t get a wicket, the pressure has to be applied for the opposition to make a mistake. That’s what I learnt when Virat was captaining and these guys were bowling,” he said.

Keeping at it

“That’s what I’m trying to do now. Apply pressure and don’t expect a wicket every ball. It’s not going to happen like that. But, if it happens, nothing like it! We got to keep at it, keep putting the ball in the right areas and let the pitch help you,” he said.

As long as Ashwin and Jadeja persist with the same plan, Rohit will not mind being under pressure from the duo for wanting to bowl all the time.

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