Rohit Sharma made a grand return to the Indian Test team by smashing a century in both innings of a Test during the Vizag game against South Africa. Rohit smashed 176 and 127, making him the sixth Indian player after Vizaj Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to achieve the feat. Rohit also smashed a record 13 sixes in the Test, giving the top order the initimidation factor that was missing ever since the retirement of Virender Sehwag. In the last couple of months, there has been some reported friction between Rohit and the Indian skipper Virat Kohli but nothing has ever been made public.
During the pre-match press conference, Kohli praised Rohit and said the Mumbai right-hander had surpassed their expectations as an opener during the Vizag Test. Taking a pun on the word fulfilled, Kohli responded, "It's overflowing and just not filled. Come on, give the guy a break now. He's done well, let him enjoy his batting at the top of the order. Let him just have fun like he does in white ball cricket. Stop focussing on what Rohit is going to do. He's in great space," Kohli said.
The Indian skipper also hailed the contributions of Mohammed Shami and said his 'selfless attitude' has boosted the team. Shami once again was the star in the second innings as he picked up 5/35 to help India win by 203 runs.
"He (Shami) is taking the responsibility. We don't need to push Shami anymore. We don't need to tell him 'come on, you need to bowl this spell for us'. He wants the ball, he understands the situation when he's given the ball. I think on the pitches we play, I don't see anyone with so much seam movement apart from him. He is someone who can change the complexion of the match totally when you don't see it coming. His skill is obviously there for everyone to see. Especially, in the second innings, when the situations are difficult he comes in and does the job everytime. It's great," Kohli said.
In the past few years, the Indian team management has often changed their combinations going into successive Tests and skipper Kohli wants everyone to see the results and understand why it has been done. This has meant people like Kuldeep Yadav, who picked up a five-wicket haul in his last Test against Australia in Sydney, finds himself on the sidelines. However, Kohli pointed out that this process has seen them achieve massive results in the last couple of years.
"Lot has been spoken and said about the system that we have followed over the last two years. The only thing that matters to us is wanting to win as many games as we can and have been able to do that. No one is self-centered and everyone is thinking about what I can do for the team. It's the same about Kuldeep. He understands that in India, Ashwin and Jadeja will be our first choices because they give us so much more with the bat as well. More or less, our team is settled and I don't think pitch will play that big a factor because when the pitch is damp, it turns as well. It's not that only seamers are predominantly effective, spinners will also be effective on all five days," Kohli said.
India lost their previous Test in Pune by 333 runs against Australia in 2017 and this remains Kohli's only loss as Test skipper at home.