Indian opener Rohit Sharma brushed aside criticism surrounding the pitches during the ongoing Test series against England, saying that home advantage should not even be a topic for debate in cricket.

Chennai pitch debate: Why should spin take effect only later in a Test but seaming tracks are fine?

The second Test finished inside four days with India performing exceedingly well on conditions familiar to them, while England won the first Test. The pitches for the two matches, both played in Chennai, were significantly different.

“I’ve never understood why it’s debated so much,” he said. “People keep talking about it, but the fact is this is how pitches in India have been for a long time. I don’t think anything should change. Everyone makes use of home advantage. When we go outside, no one thinks about us - so why should we think of others?

“We need to go with our team’s preference. That’s the meaning of home advantage. Else, just take it away. The ICC should come up with a uniform rule everywhere for pitches. When we go abroad, people make our life difficult. I don’t think pitches should be debated at all. Debates can be held on players, their performances, [and] how they are batting or bowling, but don’t debate pitches. Both teams play on the same pitch and whoever plays better wins.”

What does it take for batsmen to succeed on pitches that are challenging? Rohit said that the important thing is to be mentally prepared.

“That’s how I prepare my mind accordingly [when deciding approach on a pitch]. That’s why we as cricketers are here [playing for the country], otherwise, there are so many other cricketers who play the game, and they should be here. We’re sitting here because we understand all of that and we need to show that skillset and mindset.”

“When conditions are challenging, you will fail but that doesn’t matter if you learn from that. We also like to play conditions where things are against you. When we go out, we don’t complain about pitches; we move on and everyone should do that. Especially the experts, they talk about cricket please - not pitches,” he added.

(Quotes translation courtesy ESPNCricinfo)

Set to play in only his second pink ball Test, Rohit said there is a need to be extra cautious while batting during the twilight phase of a day-night Test, ahead of the pink-ball game against England in Ahmedabad that starts on 24 February.

Rohit, who scored a dazzling 161 in the second Test in Chennai, had featured in the first day-night Test held in India against Bangladesh in November 2019 but did not bat during the twilight phase.

“So far I have only heard from fellow teammates that it plays on mind. I played just one pink-ball Test against Bangladesh but didn’t get to bat at that (twilight) time when sun was about to set,” he said during a virtual press conference ahead of the third Test against England.

“It’s obviously a little challenging, the weather and light suddenly change. You have to be extra cautious and focussed, you need to talk to yourself. All batters are aware of these challenges. We just need to be mindful of the situation and play accordingly.”

The four-Test series between India and England is currently tied at 1-1.

(With PTI inputs)