Stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma pleased with team after India draw New Zealand XI
Although MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli were rested, Team India showed signs of life as Rohit Sharma (59) and Ajinkya Rahane (60) helped tourists draw New Zealand XI in warm-up clash ahead of the two-Test series.
Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma said on Monday, that the Indian team got "what they wanted" before going into the first Test against New Zealand at the Eden Park in Auckland, starting February 6.
"We got what we wanted from this practice game. All the batsmen got in and made some runs which is a good sign before a Test series. We are ready and both the batsmen and the bowlers got what they wanted from this match. I am happy with how things went in the last two days," Rohit, who scored a half-century along with Ajinkya Rahane said at the post-match press conference. (Also read: Dhawan fails to score big, once again)
Apart from Rohit and Rahane, Ambati Rayudu (49 no) and Ravichandran Ashwin also got some useful batting practice. (Full match report)
Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara scored 33 runs while Ashwin also had a good time with the ball taking two for 46.
Among bowlers, Ishant Sharma (2/58), Zaheer Khan (1/42) and Umesh Yadav (1/70) were also among the wickets, but the most impressive bowler was unheralded Ishwar Pandey with figures of 3/42.
Rohit had words of praise for young Pandey.
"Pandey bowled really well. Given the conditions, he stuck to his plans and he got rewarded with three wickets. All the other three fast bowlers also did well. They did not get the wickets they wanted, but Pandey was the one who got really stuck there," said Rohit. (Related: Gavaskar urges Team India to try reserve players)
Rohit said that it was important to rotate all his bowlers unlike the New Zealand XI, who gave their bowlers longer spells.
"If you look at their bowling analysis, they probably bowled 15 overs each, which is pretty good on day one. We had to rotate the bowlers, and we had to see all the fast bowlers who were in the squad. Everyone got what they needed to get out of this game. We are looking good and raring to go for the Test series," he added.
Rohit defended yet another poor show by Shikhar Dhawan 26 and Murai Vijay not making the most of the batting time in match situation.
"I won't say it is disappointing that they didn't bat longer. They had a decent outing in the middle. They got a feel. It is always disappointing to not get runs. It is not an issue. I am sure it is a matter of one good innings and things will change quickly. That is what I feel and I am sure those guys also feel the same," said the stand-in skipper, come to the rescue of his batsmen.
The Indian team now leaves for Auckland on Tuesday and then they have a short turn-around of only one day before the first Test begins in Eden Park on February 6. (Related: New Zealand in no mood to let momentum slip)
"We knew it was going to be very hectic. Mentally, we have got to be ready and everyone is ready. Touchwood, there are no injuries. We travel tomorrow, get a day off tomorrow and next day we might have practice before the Test. It is always going to be hectic, all about how you adapt to all this mentally."
Rohit says that with MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli coming back into the playing XI for the Test match, it will be a good session together before the match commences.
"There is only one day to have a good team session. There are two guys who are missing, MS (Dhoni) and Virat (Kohli). Hopefully, we can go to Auckland and get together."
"It is really important that we get together and play as a team. We have to do well in partnerships, whether it is bowling or batting. If we bat first, we have got to post big totals. If we field first, we got to take early wickets.
"That's what it is, it is very simple. Everyone knows it, hopefully we can go there and try and do this," he said. It is a very difficult challenge that lies ahead of team India. They have lost the five-match ODI series 4-0 and need to salvage this tour in the longer format," Rohit added.
The talented right-hander is ready to put behind the disappointment of a disastrous ODI series and focus on the longer version.
"At this point, you have to put everything behind. It was very disappointing to lose the ODI series. But we have to focus on what is coming next. The two Tests will be crucial. This is a young team and we know we will be playing away for a while now. We have to understand that," he was forthright in his assessment.
Rohit admitted that it will be a challenging test against New Zealand in the two-Test series.
"Everyone knows what is in front of us. The two Tests will be really challenging. New Zealand are playing some good cricket. We have to be at our best to beat them. I am sure everyone is ready to take the field," he signed off.