An exultant India coach Ravi Shastri on Tuesday said Rohit Sharma has shown himself to be of different class in the newly-acquired role of a Test opener, acclimatising exceptionally well to the challenges posed by the position.
India wrapped a 3-0 whitewash of South Africa by winning the third and final Test by an innings and 202 runs on the morning of day four here.
“Ajinkya Rahane was always there in the middle order, he only needed to rediscover, which he did himself. Rohit is different class. As an opener he needed to have a different mindset, he acclimatised. It was a difficult pitch to start with but usne jhela,” Shastri told official broadcaster ‘Star Sports’ at the end of the match.
“He has it in him to be unfazed by difficult conditions. What he has done in this series is tremendous,” he added.
Shastri lauded the mindset of the team, which he said, is never perturbed by the conditions it encounters whether at home or abroad.
“Our philosophy has been bhaad mein gaya pitch (to hell with the pitch). We need to take 20 wickets and it doesn’t matter if it’s Mumbai, Auckland, Melbourne, anywhere. Once we have taken those 20 wickets, our batting, once it gets going is like smooth-running Ferrari,” he quipped.
“When you have five bowlers who can take 20 wickets, bas that’s what matters,” he added.
India dominated from start to finish in the series with their top batsmen getting runs in abundance and bowlers striking at will against a South African team severely short on experience and confidence.
Shastri singled out left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who made his debut at 30 in the final Test here and took four wickets.
“Extremely impressed. Yesterday when he got his first wicket, I was saying ‘If Bishan Singh Bedi was watching, he would’ve said ‘cheers young man’. It was a spinner’s delight. To watch it from the outside was classical,” he said.
“(He has) 420 plus wickets (in domestic cricket), the guy has put in the yards, about time he gets the distance. Glad he finished off the game. In front of his home crowd…what was remarkable was the way he started.
“There was no nerves, first three overs were maidens. Every ball was on the spot. That’s because of his experience,” he added.
Despite the individual brilliance that shone through, Shastri said the triumph was, in the end, a team effort.
“It’s a team effort. A captain who leads from the front. You have opening batsmen who got double hundreds. Middle-order batsmen got hundreds. Normally in India, you have two players who hog the limelight. Here we’ve had six or seven payers. This is going well, enjoy,” he said.