Port Elizabeth: India vice-captain Rohit Sharma is glad that his return to form coincided with his team’s maiden ODI series triumph on South African soil but insisted that he wasn’t unsettled by the preceding low scores either.
Sharma struck a match-winning 115 in the fifth one-dayer here on Tuesday, a pivotal knock in India’s 73-run triumph, which gave the side an unassailable 4-1 lead in the six-match series. The inconsequential sixth ODI is scheduled to be held on February 16 in Centurion.
The hundred came at a crucial juncture for Sharma, who had drawn flak for his indifferent run so far. In fact, the right-hander improved a pitiful record in South Africa with his 17th ODI ton. He had scored only 40 runs in the first four games.
“I got out in three matches only, how can you say form is bad after three matches? You guys put people in good form after one match, and if somebody doesn’t have three good matches, you say he is in bad form,” Sharma said.
“In 2013 it was different. I had just turned into an opener from a middle-order batsman. The way I am batting now, it has evolved a lot. Whatever happened before 2013 and in 2013, forget about that,” he added, referring to his poor past record in South Africa.
Sharma said it was just not fair to declare anybody a failure or success on the basis of two or three performances.
“I admit the first three matches weren’t great but that happens with everybody. But I was in a good frame of mind, I was batting well in the nets and there was no pattern to my dismissals. That happens in every cricketer’s career,” he said.
Sharma said he kept following his routines in the belief that a big knock was just around the corner.
“Such a situation does come that you are trying your hardest but things don’t come off. So, at that point it is important that you relax, take a step back and think about what you need to do in the next game because every day is a new day,” he said.
The stylish batsman said just as one or two failures don’t define him, one hundred cannot make him complacent. “My hundred has gone now and in the next game I play, if I score a hundred it isn’t going to matter much. So it is important to stay in the present and this is what we talk about in our dressing room.
“If you trust your routines, you won’t have to wait too long for results. Like I did, and I knew that a big score was coming and I just have to be in that zone, not get completely bogged down and start worrying about my batting.”
The win also assured India of the No. 1 spot in the ICC rankings.
Both Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were dismissed for India after horrendous mix ups. It changed Sharma’s mindset about celebrating his return to form with a fine century.
Additionally, India’s middle order garnered only 55 runs for 4 wickets in the last 10 overs once again, showcasing their keen dependency on the top order.
“If their (middle-order) batting doesn’t come, we cannot do anything. If we are playing well, we cannot come back retired hurt. The top three have got the best opportunity because they get to play maximum balls,” Sharma said.
“Two guys got run out before me so there was nothing to celebrate about. It depends on what kind of mood you are in. Two of our batsmen got run out, so I wanted to carry on and the celebration was not in my mind at all.”
India are sure to make some changes for the sixth one-dayer, although the vice-captain said the team will be going all out for a 5-1 scoreline ahead of the three-match T20I series.
“We will approach that game in the same manner that we have approached the last five games,” Sharma said. “It is important to keep doing the right things because it doesn’t happen in South Africa that your are 4-1 up and we will definitely try to make it 5-1 at Centurion.”
Final scores from the fifth one-day international between South Africa and India at St George’s Park on Tuesday:
S. Dhawan c Phehlukwayo b Rabada 34
R. Sharma c Klaasen b Ngidi 115
V. Kohli run out (Duminy) 36
A. Rahane run out (Morkel) 8
S. Iyer c Klaasen b Ngidi 30
H. Pandya c Klaasen b Ngidi 0
MS Dhoni c Markram b Ngidi 13
B. Kumar not out 19
K. Yadav not out 2
Extras (b1, lb9, w7) 17
Total (7 wkts, 50 overs) 274
Fall of wickets: 1-48, 2-153, 3-176, 4-236), 5-236, 7-265
Bowling: Morkel 10-2-44-0, Rabada 9-0-58-1, Ngidi 9-1-51-4, Phehlukwayo 8-0-34-0, Duminy 4-0-29-0, Shamsi 10-0-48-0
H. Amla run out (Pandya) 71
A. Markram c Kohli b Bumrah 32
J. Duminy c Sharma b Pandya 1
A. de Villiers c Dhoni b Pandya 6
D. Miller b Chahal 36
H. Klaasen st Dhoni b Kuldeep Yadav 39
A. Phehlukwayo b Kuldeep Yadav 0
K. Rabada c Chahal b Kuldeep Yadav 3
M. Morkel lbw b Chahal 1
T. Shamsi c Pandya b Kuldeep Yadav 0
L. Ngidi not out 4
Extras (lb6, w2) 8
Total (42.2 overs) 201
Fall of wickets: 1-52, 2-55, 3-65, 4-127, 5-166, 6-168, 7-196, 8-197, 9-197
Bowling: Kumar 7-0-43-0, Bumrah 7-0-22-1, Pandya 9-0-30-2, Kuldeep Yadav 10-0-57-4, Chahal 9.2-0-43-2