Following his side’s series win over Australia at home, India skipper Rohit Sharma said that the team will try to send some players to the UK early after the conclusion of the league stage of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and their workload will also be monitored.
Half-centuries from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne helped Australia draw the fourth and final Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday.
India has qualified for the final of the ICC World Championship, where they will take on Australia at The Oval in London from June 7 onwards. The league stage of IPL ends on May 21, 16 days before the final and by then, six franchises out of ten will be out of contention for a spot in the playoffs.
They qualified for the WTC final after New Zealand defeated Sri Lanka in the first Test at Christchurch. NZ winning or drawing at least one of two Tests of the series would have helped India reach the final irrespective of the Ahmedabad Test result.
Player workloads will also be important given how key players like Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant have faced injuries in recent times.
“I believe in preparation and preparations will be key for us come the finals. Around May 21, there will be six teams who will possibly be out of IPL playoffs contention and so whichever players are available, we will try and find time to get them to the UK early as possible and get some time and we will monitor as much as possible,” Rohit said in the post-match press conference.
“I think it is quite critical for us, we are going to keep in constant touch with all players who are going to play that final and monitor their workload and see what’s happening with them. In fact, we are sending some Dukes Balls to all fast bowlers and see if they get some time to bowl with that, but again it all depends on individuals, guys who will be part of finals are not the guys who have not played in the UK and maybe one or two guys here and there and rest all of us have played in that part of the world,” added the skipper.
Rohit also expressed happiness with Virat Kohli’s century, which was his first in Test cricket since November 2019.
“He has played more than 100 Tests and scored a lot of runs and centuries. For a player like him, it is about playing some good innings. We saw that in white-ball cricket. He got that century in Asia Cup and never looked back. Hopefully, it will be the same in red-ball cricket,” said Rohit.
The skipper expressed happiness over India’s series win over Australia.
“We are happy with the result. We could have made it 3-1 though. When you play against Australia, it is always difficult to win. We faced a lot of challenges from Nagpur to Ahmedabad. Even here in Ahmedabad, the pitch was not helpful to bowlers for first two days,” said Rohit.
With this, India has won the four-match Test series by 2-1.
Australia started the final day of the match at 3/0, with Matt Kuhnemann (0*) and Travis Head (3*) unbeaten. They had the responsibility to overcome the 88-run lead that India had in the match.
After Ravichandran Ashwin trapped Kuhnemann early for just 6, Head joined forces with number one Test batter Marnus Labuschagne to give Australia the lead.
The duo put on a 139-run stand for the second wicket before Axar removed Head for 90. Labuschagne scored an unbeaten 63 and along with stand-in captain Steve Smith (10*), helped the side draw the match and end their innings at 175/2.
Earlier, India gained a 91-run lead over Australia after they were bundled out for 571 in their first innings.
Virat Kohli brought an end to his century drought in Test cricket, scoring his 75th international century and his 28th in Tests. This was his first century in Tests since November 2019. In his marathon effort, he scored 186 runs in 364 balls, consisting of 15 fours.
Shubman Gill also scored a century, smashing 128 runs in 235 balls. Axar (79), KS Bharat (44) and Cheteshwar Pujara (42) also played some important knocks, which helped India gain a lead over Australia.
Todd Murphy (3/113) and Nathan Lyon (3/151) were the pick of the bowlers for Australia. Mitchell Starc and Matt Kuhnemann got a wicket each. lead over Australia.
In their first innings, Australia posted 480 runs. Usman Khawaja (180) and Cameron Green (114) posted stunning centuries to help the Aussies gain a massive advantage earlier in the match.
Ravichandran Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers, taking 6/91 on a surface offering no help to spinners.
Virat Kohli was adjudged as the ‘Man of the Match’ for his knock of 186 runs.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, India’s star spin all-rounder duo were given the ‘Men of the Series’ award for their heroics throughout the series.
Ashwin ended as the top wicket-taker in the series with 25 wickets, with the best bowling figures of 6/91. He also scored useful 86 runs in five innings throughout the series with the best score of 37.
Jadeja also emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker in the series, with a total of 22 scalps and best figures of 7/42. He also scored 135 runs in five innings with one half-century and the best score of 70.
Brief Scores: India 571 (Virat Kohli 186, Shubman Gill 128, Todd Murphy 3/113) vs Australia 480 and 175/2 (Travis Head 90, Marnus Labuschagne 63*, Axar Patel 1/36). (ANI)