BENGALURU: With a comprehensive 2-0 win over Sri Lanka in the home Test series, India may have climbed to the fourth position in the World Test Championship standings, but the road ahead for Rohit Sharma’s men is arduous.
Currently, Australia top the table with 77.77 % (56 points) with four wins and a draw. They are followed by Pakistan (66.66%; 40 points), South Africa (60%; 36 points) and India (58.33%; 77 points). India have six wins, three losses and two draws, with their chances of making a bigger impact in the nine-team table being dealt a huge blow when they lost the three-match series 1-2 against hosts South Africa earlier in the year.
This means India can ill afford to slip up in the remaining seven Tests in the WTC cycle. Post Indian Premier League, India have a packed schedule beginning with a one-off Test against England at Edgbaston from July 1-5. They then travel to Bangladesh, where they play two Tests in November and also host Australia in a 4-match Test series.
India, who lost to New Zealand in the inaugural WTC final at Southampton in June last year, have set themselves long-term goals.
Spelling out the team’s plans, skipper Rohit said, “The long-term target is to reach the final of the WTC. But honestly, we cannot look that far ahead as it does not work like that. We need to look into the present, make sure that there are fewer steps to climb to reach that place. For us, reaching those small goals are very important.”
Rohit, who took over the Test captaincy from Virat Kohli last month, admitted the series loss to South Africa has hit the team hard and the win against Sri Lanka was pivotal.
“Having lost the series in South Africa, it was critical for us to make an impact and get those crucial points for us. Hence, when it comes to the WTC table, there are a lot of points that we need to do right as a team. We pretty much achieved everything that we wanted as a team (in the SL series) and boxes got ticked. I think we are moving in the right direction.”
Looking ahead, the opener said, “When we play our next Test match, it is going to be a completely different challenge and we have to be prepared for that. We have two months of IPL before that. Once the IPL is over, we will figure our next move as a team, go to the UK and see the combination we need to play.”
The WTC apart, the rest of the year is hectic for Rohit & Co with a packed schedule across formats including the Asia Cup and the showpiece event of the year – T20 World Cup. Rohit stressed on the need to manage the workload of bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, who leads the attack in all three formats.
“Keeping everything in mind, including the workload, we have to rotate these guys. They continuously play and we’ve to take care of them. Moving forward, in coming years you’ll see a lot of Bumrah playing Tests in India and abroad as well. But as I said, we need to look after these guys really well, make sure they are fresh so that they come out and perform. We want to keep them fresh all the time. That’s the challenge for us. How to do that is something we need to look at. We’ll try to take those necessary steps,” explained Rohit.