If I were their coach, I would advise them: Rohit Sharma on Pakistan's dismal form

India thrashed Pakistan for the seventh time in the World Cup history in Old Trafford Stadium on Sunday. India set a mammoth target of 337 for Pakistan by scoring 336 for the loss of 5 wickets, and went on to win the match with 89 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method. Rohit Sharma scored an impressive 140 off 113 balls and led India to victory.

If I were their coach, I would advise them: Rohit Sharma on Pakistan's dismal form Image Courtesy: ICC Media

India thrashed Pakistan for the seventh time in the World Cup history in Old Trafford Stadium on Sunday. India set a mammoth target of 337 for Pakistan by scoring 336 for the loss of 5 wickets, and went on to win the match with 89 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method. Rohit Sharma scored an impressive 140 off 113 balls and led India to victory.

Here's a transcript of Rohit Sharma's interview post registering a thumping victory against Pakistan which was published on the ICC Media website.

Q. The other day, you said it was not a typical condition. What do you call about this one? And did you plan something different to what you planned in Southampton?

ROHIT SHARMA: No. As a batsman, when you are playing where the conditions are going to challenge you, as a batsman, you've just got to assess the conditions first because the pitch was under the cover for a long time. The last two days we were here, the pitch was under the covers, and it was a little soft when we started. So assessing the crucial phase of the innings, the first phase of the innings was important for us, and not to lose wicket at that point was very crucial.

So as a batsman, when you're facing those kinds of conditions, your job is to assess and make sure that you don't try and lose too many wickets up front because, when the conditions are like that, it becomes more of a new ball game, and then the opposition can put pressure if you lose a few wickets. So the idea was not to lose wickets and build a platform and try to take the game forward after that.

Q. Rohit, you have been batting beautifully, two 100s and a 50. So what do you attribute this to? Your form, preparation, planning, and your liking the wickets? Or what would be the primary reasons?
ROHIT SHARMA: I think it's just the space I am in right now. It's a very good phase in my life. Having a daughter, a newly born daughter in my life actually has put me in a good space. So, yeah, I think I'm enjoying my cricket coming off a great IPL campaign and then starting off here. We always know how important it is to start well. So the focus was always on that to start well and then see where the team is heading and then the individual.

So I think as a team we're heading in the right direction. For us, it is important to just keep ticking all the boxes, and I think, as a team, we have done that most of the time.

Q. Rohit, can you talk to us about how it is to bat at the top of the order with a new partner in KL Rahul? And about what goes behind a decision to not take the strike first? Because you like taking strike first in the ODIs, but you have not done that in a couple of games. So can you tell us about that.
ROHIT SHARMA: Yeah, KL also likes to take the strike, and for me it was important to give him that because, of course, him coming off that mindset of taking the strike and playing the first ball, you know, I wanted to make -- give him that because he likes to take the first ball. So, yeah, nothing specific into that. He just likes to take the strike, and so am I. I like to face the new ball.

Again, that is his comfort. He is playing his first game as an opener here, so I wanted to make sure that he's comfortable.

Q. Rohit, can you talk about Kuldeep, like how this tournament has gone for him? Today you also kind of gave him some advice when he was bowling his best possibly, you might agree, so far in the tournament, this match?

ROHIT SHARMA: Yes, Kuldeep is someone who needs a lot of confidence before going into his spell. So all -- as a team, we've been talking about him, how big a match winner he's been for us in the last year or so. He's probably, what, 48 games and almost 90 wickets. That is almost two wickets per game. That's a hell of a record for a spinner, and most of the wickets have come out of the sub-continent for him.

He's our match-winning bowler in that middle over phase, and today also you saw how important those crucial wickets were. Both the batsmen were set. Of course, he didn't start the tournament the way he would like to, but for us as a group around him, our job is to just make sure that he gets that confidence, he gets that backing from the team.

He understands his bowling really well as well. So it's just about giving him that confidence, making sure that he knows that he's one of our premier bowlers, and we've done that. You know, when you do that as a team, the individual always wants to step up, and I think he did it today.

Q. Rohit, just to follow up on Rahul's question, you were batting with him for the first time. Obviously, there's some miscommunication and all that. So what are the challenges of batting with a new partner and building a communication when you have batted with one guy for so long and have developed such a good understanding? What are the challenges for you?

ROHIT SHARMA: These are the sort of challenges you face -- the understanding of when he wants to run that two, when I want to take that single, and things like that. These are very small little things, but of course, eventually they add up to a whole lot for the team because at that point we never wanted to get run out. That was the last thing in our mind to do that. Yeah, those are the challenges, understanding the partner, what he's trying to do, what is going on in his head at that point. Is he trying to take single or trying to go for a big shot? As a non-striker, you've got to be ready for all of that.

But we had a lot of communication today while we were batting, so slowly we will build on it. Now that I know he's going to open for the next few games as well. So that conversation between us is really, really important, and I hope that continues because it's going to only help both of us. Openers starting well is very, very important. We know that. So that will play a big part in coming games.

Q. What did you make of the atmosphere and the ground today? Particularly at the start. It was pretty electric from where we were.

ROHIT SHARMA: Yeah, it was always going to be like that. We knew that, when you play a game against Pakistan, it's always going to be like that. But I think the crowd was evenly poised -- 51 percent Indian, 49 percent Pakistan, I would say (laughter).

The crowd, they come here for entertainment, and probably we were really good today as a team, and we wanted to get those 2 points, having washed out our previous game. So we were quite keen to get onto the park and display our skills because of late we've been in good form. So we just wanted to continue and have a full game.

Q. Rohit, two questions. One, is it the most satisfying ODI 100 out of your 24 100s because it's Pakistan. Number two, there was so much noise in the galleries. Did you hear Rahul clearly, or did you sign language while running?
ROHIT SHARMA: Most of the time, I did hear him because, of course, both of us have played in other elements, pressure of the crowd. Whenever we play in India, there's 30,000-plus. I think here as well. The crowd will be there, and they will be at their loudest, but, yes, it is our duty to make sure the communication is nice and easy and we understand. Sometimes you cannot hear, but you just have to look at your partner and see what he's trying to do, and just that one glance is enough, I guess, to understand whether he's trying to take that single or not.

But not playing for a long time with him, so, of course, there was going to be some miscommunication. That happens in every game that you play. Hopefully, in the future, we will make sure that those lapses don't happen quite often.

Q. Is it more satisfying?
ROHIT SHARMA: I'm sure if I get 100 in another game, you'll ask me the same question. Was this satisfying?


I don't know. It's hard to put any knock on the top because all those knocks you play for your country are very, very important, and all those 100s are very, very important. So it's very tough for me to put one up there.

Q. Rohit, this match was really hyped, but you ended up winning it very easily. Probably the easiest win India's had over Pakistan in a major tournament. What was it about Pakistan that made it so straightforward for you today?
ROHIT SHARMA: I mean, rather than talking about them, I think we were really, really good today with the bat and the ball. Yes, we were under pressure when they were batting. They had a partnership there. But that is the skill of our spinners. Whenever the opposition has stringed long partnerships, big partnerships, these guys have come and gotten us those breakthroughs. So I think we were really good with the bat and with the ball. I can't really see what Pakistan did wrong.

Q. A lot was written in the build-up to the game about the political situation between the two countries, but in the crowd it was really friendly, and there seemed to be a lot of respect between the two teams. Is that a fair assessment?
ROHIT SHARMA: Yeah, I guess. Whenever we play against each other, it's always been like that. I don't know what it seems from the outside, but we are playing the game against another opposition. For us, it's pretty simple. We are here to win the game, not look at the opposition. Whether it's Australia, South Africa, England, or Pakistan, for us, it doesn't matter. We are here on a mission, and our focus is to make sure that we accomplish that mission. All the outside talk and all that will keep happening, but for us, it's just to focus on the job at hand and make sure we get the job done at the end of the day.

Q. I will congratulate you for a beautiful 100 you have captured all the match. Really we are happy to have seen that today, a beautiful innings. I will ask about you for the Pakistan team is under crisis for a long time. As a colleague, what would you suggest to Pakistan batsmen how they can come out from this crisis?
ROHIT SHARMA: If I were the Pakistan coach, I would advise them (laughter all around).

Q. Considering the kind of pitch it was, as you said, it was a bit soft in the beginning and the conditions were such. Were you pleasantly surprised to get so many short balls, like the amount of cuts and pulled shots that you played today? Were you pleasantly surprised with the kind of balls the Pakistanis bowled, mainly Hasan and Wahab?
ROHIT SHARMA: I don't know what happens in their team meeting, whether it's to bowl up or bowl short, but I don't know. They bowled, I guess, pretty well in the first half. The first 10 overs, they bowled pretty well. They started off really well, I would say. Of course, we know in England, once you're in, it's very hard for the bowlers to come back, and there's not enough room for error. If you make an error, you're going to get punished. That is pretty simple. We've seen it over the years in this part of the world.

Of course, certain games, certain conditions will challenge you as a batsman, but it did us in the initial phase because the shot making wasn't that easy, but I really can't read into what was going in their mind, whether to bowl up or to bowl short. They did bowl up a fair amount, but then, again, as a batsman you are ready to just pounce on it when given or bowl to your strength. So I think which was my strength when someone bowls short to me. But, yeah, I guess it is what it is.

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