Colombo: There was a lot of criticism from all quarters when Rohit Sharma was moved down the batting order from one drop to No 5 but the talented right-hander is of the opinion that "no one owns any particular batting slot" in this team.
Rohit ended the Test series as the second highest run-getter (202 runs) behind skipper Virat Kohli with his second half-century in the series.
Asked about his preferred batting slot, Rohit said,"If you ask anyone, they are not going to say this is my number. Nowhere it's written in the world that No 4 belongs to this person, No 3 belongs to that person. As a batsman, you want to bat as up the order as possible to get more opportunities, face more balls and score big runs."
"But the management felt I should bat at No 5 and they came and spoke to me and I was okay with whatever they wanted. I cannot have my own preference, it's a team game and you do what the team wants from you," Rohit said at the post-match media conference.
The Mumbaikar admitted that all the tracks in this Test series has been of different nature.
"Well, this series was totally different when we started playing in Galle. The wicket there was completely different. Then again at the P Sara, the wicket was different and again at the SSC. When you bat at different positions, you have to have a different mindset. I feel I should have done a bit more with my bat but I will definitely take what I have done," he said.
With Cheteshwar Pujara scoring a career-changing century, the pressure is back on Rohit but he is not unduly perturbed.
"The pressure I feel will be on the management and the captain to decide the playing eleven, not on me. I have to play my game when I get an opportunity. That's how I look at it."
Someone known to gove straightforward replies, Rohit made it clear that he won't stop pulling the short balls from the pacers.
"If you look at the game carefully, on the first morning, I played that shot I think off Nuwan Pradeep. I played a very similar shot which got me four runs. That's how it works. That's my shot, and I play that all the time. I am not going to shy away playing my shots.
"I will back myself and whenever I bat, I always have intent to score runs, not to just be there and survive. Sometimes, that ball could have gone a little behind him, it could have fetched me six runs but it went straight into his hands. It's unfortunate," added Rohit.
Rohit has more often than not being panned by critics for not realising his true potential but he feels that there is little reason to react to it.
"What happens outside is irrelevant to me because it is not going to help my cricket. Only hard work, doing what I have been doing in the nets and getting better as a player everyday will help me, and I will stick to it," he was curt in his response.
He did not forget to mention that everyone goes through a rough patch.
"No one goes through a very clean patch. There will be some sort of up and down in the career of a sportsman. I am no different and I can say things have been up and down, but as long as I am enjoying my cricket nothing can stop me."
"Going into this Test, I wanted to make a contribution and you will not score a hundred all the time. Any sort of contribution that can help your team is more than enough for me," he further added.
On the overall position of the match, Rohit exuded confidence that India will clinch it tomorrow.
"We stand in a very good position right now. We have given them a target of 386 on a wicket like this, which has something for the bowler throughout the day whether its spinners or fast bowlers."
"Most of the wickets have been taken by seamers but the spinners have also taken some wickets. Going into the fifth day, obviously it will assist the spinners a little bit more.
"But the fast bowlers have done a job for us in this game and they have bowled really well. So I expect nothing but to come out and give the same effort as we did in the first innings."
He reckoned that batting would not be easy on the final day on a pitch that has acted tricky all throughout.
"Batting on the fifth day and having a target of 380-plus is never easy for any opposition. We will just have to come out tomorrow and do what we did in P Sara. In the same situation they were 3-down and we had a very similar target there as well. So one more job and we are through," he added.
"When we went into bat, the idea was be cautious in the first 20-30 minutes. So the first 20-25 minutes, we didn't get many runs and once we got enough time in the middle we started playing our shots. Every small little partnership on this wicket is crucial. There is something for the bowlers throughout the day," he said.
The idea according to Rohit was not to look too far
"We were not looking at getting too far ahead, like a 100-run stand or 200-run stand. Once Virat got out, Stuart came in and played some shots. That's how he bats. We got that 50-run partnership in real quick time. It was really important at that point of time and we wanted to capitalize, as the bowlers were tired.
"We did that really well and once I got out, Naman Ojha and Stuart carried for a bit and R Ashwin and Amit Mishra then did too. Lower order contribution is really important in Test cricket. That's the reason why we got 380-plus as the target. Everybody contributed in bits and pieces. We?ll focus on our bowling tomorrow," he added.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Pradeep said that his side will look to play positively and aim for a win tomorrow despite being three wickets down and chasing a massive target of 386 runs.
"We are looking to play positively. The batsmen at the crease were looking positive. We want to go for the win tomorrow," Pradeep said after the day's play.
The fast bowler, who was injured after the first match in Galle, said he was happy to see a green pitch on his return to playing XI in this ongoing third Test.
"I had a full week to recover. So I was fit and got back into the playing eleven here. It was good to see a green pitch here. It encourages you, but you have to bowl in the right areas to use this pitch," said Pradeep.