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Rohit Sharma doesn't need to be taught to score hundreds: Ravichandran Ashwin backs skipper

NEW DELHI: Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Thursday came to the defense of Rohit Sharma , stating that the captain "doesn't need to be taught to score hundreds."

Ashwin strongly supported Rohit following criticism over his inability to convert a strong start into a substantial score in the World Cup final against Australia.

Throughout the tournament, Rohit's dynamic performances were instrumental in India's quick starts, amassing an impressive 597 runs in 11 matches at a remarkable strike rate of 125.

Despite his impactful contributions, Rohit faced scrutiny from some quarters for his aggressive attempt to hit Glenn Maxwell out of the park in the final, resulting in his dismissal for a 31-ball 47. While this set a solid foundation, the team struggled to capitalise on it.

"Everybody says in hindsight that he would score 100 if he carried on, but it was his intent that made the team play in such a way. Rohit Sharma doesn't need to be taught to score hundreds - he has had quite a lot - but it is the intent which counts," Ashwin said.

The experienced off-spinner expressed his surprise at Australia's choice to bowl first in the final last Sunday. Despite being initially taken aback, he commended Pat Cummins and selector George Bailey for their astute reading of the Ahmedabad pitch, acknowledging their ability to assess the conditions effectively.

Australia outsmarted India on many fronts of the summit clash as they clinched their sixth World Cup fin, beating the title favourites, who were on a 10-match winning spree, in the final played at the world's largest cricket stadium.

"Australia were practically outstanding in the final. I was shell-shocked to see their tactics. Australia has deceived me personally, as their history goes by, they say 'we are going to have a bat, mate!' after winning the toss in the big finals," Ashwin said in his latest YouTube video on Thursday.

"I was praying to the lord that Australia should do that, because many people do not understand that the soil in Ahmedabad was like Odisha's, as in, it played like how any soil taken from the eastern part of the country would play - if every pitch gets bounce until the knee, this would get bounce only up to the shin," he said.

"The bounce will be less, but the soil won't disintegrate because the clay does not release the moisture, but holds it," Ashwin added.

Ashwin explained why he was surprised by Australia's tactics, but also added that India becoming a 'cricket hub' of the world due to the number of bilateral series as well as the Indian Premier League gave the overseas players insights into pitches and conditions.

"I was checking out if the pitch was disintegrating at the mid innings and I met George Bailey, the chairman of selectors and asked 'why didn't you guys bat first like you always do after winning the toss?'," he said.

"For that he answered back, 'we have played IPL and bilateral series for a long time now, and in our experience, the red soil disintegrates, but the black soil gets better to bat on under the lights'," Ashwin said.

"Dew is not a big impact in red soil pictures, whereas black soil pitches are good turners in the afternoon, but in the night, the pitch solidifies into a paata wicket and plays as though it is made of concrete," he continued.

Ashwin said, "I was flabbergasted listening to that, seeing all the experience from IPL and the bilateral series and India becoming a central hub of world cricket. They can read the pitch perfectly," he said.

The ace Indian spinner laughed off the media reports that surfaced on the day of India's semifinal against New Zealand in Mumbai claiming that the pitch for the contest was change at the behest of the hosts.

"Journalists from other countries comment that the pictures have been changed and so on but it is clearly laughable. India is a unique country, different parts of the country have different soils," he said.

"Ahmedabad in itself has more than 3-4 varieties of soil in the square so, what George Bailey said regarding the pitch made me spellbound, but Pat Cummins' execution needs to be applauded," he added.

Ashwin said he had not watched a fast bowler bowl to a conventional field for an off-spinner, which Cummins executed perfectly against India in the final.

"In the last 4-5 games leading up to the final, almost 50 per cent of the balls were cutters. In the final, he had a four–five (four on off, five on leg) field like an off-spinner," Ashwin observed.

"He bowled only three balls in the 6 meter mark towards the stumps in the entire 10-over spell. He knocked off crucial wickets in the final - a game breaking spell by Pat Cummins apart from calling the toss right," said Ashwin, while praising the Australian camp for persisting with Travis Head and giving him full backing.

Ashwin said India No 4 Shreyas Iyer is someone who chases excellence and is a champion batter in-making for the country.

"Batting against spin and taking them down is Shreyas' specialty and he is a standout performer. Chasing excellence is a rare commodity in sports. If somebody does something unique, people, instead of appreciating it, tell them not to do it," Ashwin said.

"What I love about Shreyas is that he chases excellence, he took a note to master the pull shot and worked on it. He got out on it but look at the number of balls he put away to the boundary?"

"Balls were sent to the midwicket region and behind square, which shows he is ready for that ball. He hit fast bowlers above mid off, definitely the sign of a champion batter developing for India," Ashwin said.

For taking most wickets in the World Cup (24) in only seven matches, Ashwin praised India pacer Mohammed Shami.

"There is something in mythology called Midas touch. Like Midas, Shami had the golden touch with him. Whenever he bowled, there was a wicket. I don't remember how many times the first ball in a spell was a wicket (taking one) in this tournament," Ashwin said.

(With PTI Inputs)