India captain Rohit Sharma said Monday the Test team will stay connected to prepare for the World Test Championship final despite two months of action in the Indian Premier League.
The world’s two top-ranked teams will battle again on June 7-11 at The Oval in the World Test Championship final. But before that, players will now switch to a limited-overs format with the two teams set to play three one-day internationals ahead of the much-awaited IPL starting March 31.
Although coach Rahul Dravid did not go in much detail about India’s preparation for the WTC final after the fourth Test, Rohit said that he is expecting good workload management from his core group of long-format players during the gruelling IPL, which will return with the home and away format for the first time since the pandemic.
“Whatever time we find after IPL, we will try and get ready for that (final),” he said.
The fast bowlers will be made to practise with Dukes balls, which are used in England and behave differently than the SG leather balls in India or the Kookaburra in Australia, Rohit added.
“It’s quite critical for us. We are going to keep in constant touch with all the players who are going to play that final and monitor their workload and see what’s happening with them.”
He added: “In fact we are sending some Dukes Balls to all fast bowlers and see if they get some time to bowl with that, but again it all depends on individuals, guys who will be part of finals are not the guys who have not played in UK and may be one or two guys here and there and rest all of us have played in that part of the world. I don’t think it will be a huge problem.”
The IPL will conclude with the final on May 28, just 10 days ahead of the WTC match, but Rohit believed some players whose IPL teams exit from the tournament early will be sent to the United Kingdom.
“Around May 21st, there will be six teams who will be possibly out of IPL play-off contention and so whichever players are available, we will try and find time to get them to UK early as possible and get some time and we will monitor as much as possible,”
“Look, I believe that preparations will be key for us, come the finals.”
Australia, with their outstanding home performance and significant victories in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and on this tour, also made the final after their win in the third Test in Indore.
The Indian captain said he was looking forward to meeting them in neutral conditions saying, “Speaking of playing them (Australia) in finals, it will be a different ball game with neutral venue for both teams. Both teams have played lot of cricket in that part of the world and I won’t say it will be alien conditions for both teams but yes, compared to what it is like playing India in India or Australia in Australia, it is not going to be like that, it would be slightly different from that which I am sure both teams will prepare for it.”
On the spin duo
R Ashwin excelled with his six wickets in Australia’s first innings at Ahmedabad, in a run-filled match which was at odds with the first three Tests. Ashwin managed 25 wickets in the series, ahead of Ravindra Jadeja’s 22, as the spin duo received the player-of-the-series award jointly.
With the next Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India scheduled for 2027, Rohit said he hoped Ashwin and Jadeja will be around when Australia come back next, saying “For the sake of Indian cricket, I hope they stay and play for a long time.”
He added: “Both of them are marathon performers for us. They know exactly how to get the job done, especially in this part of the world. You give them the ball, they’ll give you those breakthroughs. With the bat, they get you crucial runs. They are important players for us. A large part of our success belongs to those two guys. Obviously, it’s not just for a period of few years, but it is for a decade. Those shoes will be big ones to fill.” Sharma said.
Ashwin and Jadeja were declared joint player-of-the-series winners.
On Kohli’s ton
While Virat Kohli returned to scoring the big runs in white-ball cricket during Asia Cup last year, the Test century eluded him until the Ahmedabad Test. Rohit spoke about Kohli’s 186 against Australia, during which he broke his three-year drought of Test centuries after he scored his last one against Bangladesh in a day-night game in India.
“Look, he played more than 100 Tests, got so many hundreds, for a player like him, it’s a few innings here and there. We saw in white ball cricket, we saw in the Asia Cup, he scored that 100 and never looked back. I hope it will be the same with the red ball as well,” Rohit said.
“It’s about going out there and applying yourself and doing the same things. He (Kohli) did pretty well and he did his own things rather than worrying about the scoreboard and he just batted the way he bats. Usually that’s what got him success,” he added.
Watch Rohit Sharma’s post-match chat here.
With inputs from AFP