Intent to score and not just survive was the key to flourish on the Ahmedabad pitch for the third Test between India and England, according to opener Rohit Sharma who described the surface as “interesting but normal.”

Rohit attributed his first innings half-century to the positive intent that he displayed during the day-night third Test in which England got beaten by 10 wickets inside two days on the spin-friendly pitch.

“When you are playing on a pitch like that, you need to have an intent and look to score runs as well. You can’’t just keep blocking,” Rohit said during the virtual conference after the match ended on Thursday.

England captain Joe Root and Zak Crawley had earlier described the track as challenging.

The senior opener scored his team’s only half-century of the game with the Indian spinners accounting for 19 wickets. England batsmen were deceived consistently by left-armer Axar Patel’s arm balls.

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Rohit felt that during his innings of 66, he was a step or two ahead of England’s bowlers.

“You just need to be slightly ahead at times and try and find ways to score runs. My intent was not just to survive but try and score runs as well, while respecting the good balls. That’s all I tried to do. The pitch was an interesting one and odd ball was just coming in and some were taking turns. On a track like this, you need to have a clear mindset, which I think I did until I played that sweep shot.”

Rohit felt that Axar’s strategy of attacking the stumps paid off well. The spinner ended the game with 11 wickets to his name.

“Axar was simply brilliant,” Rohit said. “Coming out from nowhere and performing is never easy. He was out injured, slightly down, came back and bowled very well in Chennai. He understands conditions well and how to vary the pace and what lines to bowl.”

Coming wider of the crease was also another effective ploy used by Axar.

“He made the batter play most balls which is important as you never know which one is going to turn. He bowls little wider of the crease and his slightly slinging action makes it very difficult for batsman to either leave or play,” said Rohit.

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For the 33-year-old, the second Test track in Chennai was more challenging.

“If you look at the second Test, it was turning a hell of a lot more than what it did here, to be honest. But then a lot of the batters got runs there in the second Test,” he said.

“Like I said in this Test match, we have got to accept that we didn’t bat well but in Chennai where the pitch had a lot more to offer, we batted well on that track.

“Ashwin got a hundred, Virat got 60-odd, so if you applied yourself, you could still score runs,” said Rohit, who himself got 161 in that game.

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He admitted that tackling spinners in pink ball games is an area that would need some work.

“We need to get back to the drawing board and decide what we need to do when the ball is not spinning. Most batters got out to straight balls.”

Asked about the difference between the pink and the red SG ball, Rohit felt that the former travelled faster.

“I think it (pink) came to the bat a little faster than the normal red ball. I guess it has a lot to do with the conditions in the evening. The temperature goes down and plus the dew factor. Whenever we play with a pink ball in India, it’s going to behave like that due to the grass on the pitch,” he added.

Watch Rohit Sharma’s full press conference here:


(With inputs from PTI)