Chennai: Middle-order batsmen Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane today said the time for giving excuses for India's mediocre performances in overseas Test matches is long over and the team is now ready to take up the challenges.
Rohit said the learning phase for the Virat Kohli-led side, post the transition phase, is long over and the team is now ready to perform with the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka.
Rohit Sharma. Pic/ AFP
"After we finished the West Indies tour and went to South Africa in 2013 that was a challenge. If I am not wrong after that we went to England, New Zealand and Australia and we knew that was going to be a challenge with the big names retiring," Rohit told reporters before leaving for Sri Lanka.
"In any way we responded throughout the series, throughout those couple of years in fact. We pretty much know we were ready to go forward and take up the challenge. We
cannot give excuses anymore that we are still learning. We had enough of experience at this level.
"In the next couple of years we are going to play a lot of cricket in the sub-continent and it's going to be a big challenge for us. The way we responded to Test cricket in the
last couple of years is really good. We have shown positive intent which is always good for an young and upcoming team. All the guys in the team have now played more than 10 Test matches, so we can't give any excuses anymore," he said. Rahane agreed with his teammate and said the next big challenge for India will be to come out victorious in Sri Lanka.
"As Rohit said everyone played all most 10 Test matches or more than that, so we are experienced enough to play Test cricket and I feel the Sri Lanka series will be challenging for us," he said. "We played some good cricket in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, so I am sure this unit will do well in Sri Lanka. Our challenge will be to win all the three Test matches there and comeback as champions," Rahane said.
Rahane also firmly stood behind his Test skipper Virat Kohli under whom India have played three Test matches so far albeit without any success. "As a captain Virat (Kohli) has the support of the whole team. We played three Test matches under him and I don't think there is any pressure on him. He is such a person who doesn't take pressure at all. I personally don't think there will be pressure on Virat to win a Test match or win the series in Sri Lanka," Rahane said.
Meanwhile, asked about his recent comment on his Test spot under doubt following a string of mediocre performances, the Mumbai batsman said he was misunderstood by the media. "It was a misunderstanding. What I wanted to say was that a Test spot doesn't come easily to a cricketer I don't want to give it away so easily. There will always be competition in the team. As long as you are in the team there will always be competition. This is not a new thing for us. Competition is always necessary for every cricketer of the team because this is one thing which motivates you and increases your eagerness to perform," he said.
Rohit also said that playing Sri Lanka at home will be a challenge for the Indian team as they have some good spinners who can utilise the sub-continent pitches effectively. "Every batsmen has different approach to a spinner. But as batting unit our aim is to dominate and play positively. All our batsmen have good technique to play the spinners but it will be a challenge we can't deny that," he said.
"The trend we have been following in the last couple of years playing outside India that we have to change a little bit for sure. When we play abroad we have to play a lot of
fast bowling and when we are in sub-continent we have to play a lot of slow bowling.
"When we go to Sri Lanka we need to sit down and plan, understand how we need to go forward and I am sure all of us will try to put the right foot forward because Sri Lanka at home really play well. They have got couple of good spin bowlers who can a little bit of damage. But our batsmen have faced these challenges before and we have experience so that shouldn't be a problem," Rohit said.
Rahane, who led the Indian team in the short limited- overs series in Zimbabwe, said the tour was a good learning experience for him. "Zimbabwe tour as a captain it was very good for me. I was really happy the way we played in Zimbabwe. Before flying to Zimbabwe we decided that we will play as a unit," he said. "For me attitude and intent on the field is very important. As a captain I was really happy with the attitude and intent shown by each and every member of the team. I really learnt a lot from that tour."