India batsman Rohit Sharma on Thursday heaped praise on Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel after the spinners guided the team to an impressive win over England in the third Test.
Riding on brilliant spells of spin bowling from Axar and Ashwin, India registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Thursday to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
Chasing 49 for a win, India raced home with 10 wickets in the bag as Rohit (25) and Shubman Gill (15) finished proceedings in a hurry. Rohit finished it off in style by sending Root into the mid-wicket stands. The win has taken India one step closer to the final of the World Test Championship.
But the star of the show was hometown boy Axar, finishing with 11 wickets in the game (six in the first innings and five in the second). Senior partner Ashwin wasn't to be left too far behind as he picked four wickets to finish with seven in the game and also reached the 400-wicket mark in Test cricket.
"Ashwin is probably one of our match-winners, if not 'the’ match-winner of Indian cricket history. He is definitely a match-winner for us and has won so many games for us. Big congratulations to him to get to that milestone. It must be a great feeling for him as well. To do that in his 77th Test match, it is a great feat. Hats off to him and not to forget his contribution with the bat in the series as well. He has done remarkably well and obviously, the team relies on him a lot," Rohit said in the post-match press conference.
He felt that Patel's strategy of attacking the stumps paid off well.
"Axar was simply brilliant...
"Coming out from nowhere and performing is never easy. He was out injured, slightly down, came back and bowled very well in Chennai. He understands the conditions really well. He knows how to vary the pace and what lines to bowl which is very, very important as a bowler to understand your line, to the right-handers and to the left-handers is very important,” Rohit said.
Coming wider off the crease was also another effective ploy used by Patel.
“And what he did brilliantly in this game was that he made the batters play most of the balls which is always important on a wicket like that as you never know which one is going to turn. He bowls little wider off the crease and his slightly slinging action makes it very difficult for batsman to either leave or play. It all goes to his skill set and he has got a solid skillset," said Rohit.
Rohit admitted that tackling spinners in pink ball games is an area that would need some work.
"We need to get back to drawing board and decide what we need to do when the ball is not spinning. Most batters got out to straight balls."
Asked about the difference between the pink and the red SG ball, Rohit felt that the former travelled faster.
"I think it (pink) came to the bat a little faster than the normal red ball. I guess it has a lot to do with the conditions in the evening. The temperature goes down and plus dew factor.
"Whenever we play pink ball in India, it's going to behave like that, lot more grass on the pitch," he added.