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Rohit Sharma, belying his reputation for ‘blink and miss’ appearances cemented during India’s recent tour to Sri Lanka, hung around more than half an hour to score an unbeaten half century that powered India to a comprehensive victory over England in the Group A game yesterday.
The Mumbaikar’s elegant bordering on lazy knocks in the series thus far – redolent of an earlier era where grace and aesthetics were prized over getting the job done – has confounded cricketing pundits and fans alike, who find themselves hard-pressed to offer plausible explanations for his remarkable turn-around.
However, Indian skipper MS Dhoni unwittingly let the cat out of the bag during the post match conference by disclosing that Sharma, known for being extremely miserly when it comes to spending time in the middle, had been told that the game was just another practise match which led him to bat for longer than usual and play in his characteristic languid style.
“What do you think of Rohit’s unexpectedly good show today?” was the first question that Dhoni had to face in the post match press conference. “Well of course you know when things don’t work out you have to try something different. And fortunately for us it worked,” disclosed Dhoni with a smile on his face.
On being asked what was done differently, the Indian skipper replied, “Well of course you see Rohit batted very well in the practice match again Pakistan. He had played brilliantly in the practice match against Pakistan itself before the previous T20 World Cup too. So Duncan and I thought that maybe Rohit would click if he was told that this match too was a practice match. Rohit didn’t believe us at first, but when I said at the toss that we are treating this as a practice match, he was convinced. Dropping Viru, Zak and Ashwin banished any lingering doubts from his mind. And you can see the results.”
The Indian skipper conceded that the management would have a hard time convincing the talented Mumbaikar that the forthcoming matches in the Super 8 stage were also trivial practise matches. “Well of course, it will be tough but then things get tougher from this stage onwards in every department,” mused MSD, a touch philosophically.
Regarding the bowling attack, the Indian captain agreed that it would now be an all spin attack for the rest of the series. “Well, our fast bowlers suck so of course we will field an all spin attack. Srinivasan Sir has assured me that conditions going into the Super 8 Stage will suit our spinners,” disclosed Dhoni, grinning impishly, before adding that Dinda and Balaji have been instructed to practise their off-breaks to be in contention for selection.
When a journalist suggested that Manoj Tiwary would have been better off playing in the Irani trophy as he is not part of the team even for a practice game, Dhoni replied, “Well of course we’ll give Manoj a run when we see the right opportunity. But he is a key member of the squad.”
Immediately thereafter, Dhoni called up Tiwary and asked him to collect the keys to his room from the hotel’s reception.