'Wasn't a great decision': Dinesh Karthik questions Rohit Sharma's tactics after Australia belt 255/4 against India
Veteran India wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik rated Rohit Sharma's captaincy on a see-saw kind of day, giving it a bittersweet verdict as Australia piled 255/4 on Day 1 of the 4th Test in Ahmedabad.
On the best batting pitch of the series so far, Australia put up their best batting display, smashing 255/4 against India on Day 1 of the Ahmedabad Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday. Usman Khawaja, playing only his third Test in India, slammed his maiden century in the country and Australia's first of the Border Gavaskar Trophy, whereas all-rounder Cameron Green remained unbeaten on 49. The day saw India and Australia fighting back and forth to claw their way back and snatch the advantage from the other. From Australia ruling the first hour to India coming back strongly to pick four wickets, the two teams were on even keel for most part of the day… until the last half an hour saw Aussies wreck the Indian bowling attack and race past the 250-run mark by stumps.
Veteran India wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik rated Rohit Sharma's captaincy on a see-saw kind of day, giving it a bittersweet verdict. Karthik feels that while Rohit did well to keep brining India back in the match everytime Australia seemed to walk away, he missed in trick in the closing stages of the day. And rightly so. Australia took advantage of a wayward Indian bowling scoring 56/0 in the first 14 overs before Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami picked two wickets. The second session was won by Australia with Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja adding a fifty-run partnership, before India got the breakthrough in the final session. Ravindra Jadeja had Smith playing on and Shami's reverse-swinging scorcher detonated Peter Handscomb's off-stump to bring Australia down to 170/4.
"I liked it for the large part of the day. He was proactive in field placings. He didn't use the usual method of keeping silly point, short leg. There wasn't a single bat pad and the ball didn't lob up or anything. He kept things tight consistently. After the first hour, he pulled it back, got 4 wickets. Then during that middle phase when Smith and Khawaja were playing, he held it tight and didn't give them easy boundaries," Karthik said on Cricbuzz.
But where it all went downhill was at the end of the 81st over, when Rohit opted for the new ball. India's hopes of getting a wicket with it was thwarted with Green and Khawaja producing a counter-attack. Over 100 runs were scored in the final session, clearly making it Australia's day, which forced Karthik to be a bit harsh in his assessment of Rohit. Karthik questioned Rohit's decision to take the second new ball when the spinners looked settled and even raised doubts over his handling of Axar Patel, who bowled 12 overs in comparison to Ashwin's 25 and Jadeja's 20.
"But I think him taking the new ball at that stage wasn't a great decision. In the hindsight he should have looked back and said 'Should I have bowled 9 overs with it? Or maybe 4-5? That is one. And second. Axar Patel is a very interesting case study in Rohit Sharma's captaincy so far. He's got 2 pillars of Indian cricket in Jadeja and Ashwin and he is giving them a large volume of overs. But where is Axar Patel in the mix - the third spinner? We have seen him do well with the new ball; at least if you've taken the new ball, could he have taken the opportunity to bowl with it? He's got bounce, it's his home conditions," mentioned Karthik.
"Also we have to remember that as a captain when you've got 3 spinners, it's always hard. Spinners bowl longer spell but you also get the feeling that he has under-bowled Axar to a point. It looks good when you're winning; when you're not it appears a problem. I wouldn't fault Rohit too much for it. But is there something Rohit can do to change in Test matches which are aiding spinners."
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