Rohit had to 'open up all sides of the field' to counter St Lucia breeze

Manjrekar: 'Rohit's selflessness the most appealing thing about him' (1:14)

'His sublime shots remind us of his brilliance,' Manjrekar added (1:14)

Rohit Sharma said he needed "to be smart" and "open up all sides of the field" to counter the strong breeze at the Daren Sammy Stadium in a Super Eight game of the T20 World Cup 2024 against an Australia bowling attack that tried to use that same breeze to make life difficult for him. He was smart enough on the day, hitting a 41-ball 92 with seven fours and eight sixes to lead India to a 24-run win and a spot in the semi-finals as the Group 1 toppers.

"I thought right from over number one, there was a strong breeze blowing across. But they changed their plan, trying to bowl against the breeze," Rohit said on the host broadcast after earning the Player-of-the-Match award. "So I had to open up the other side of the field as well. Need to be smart. Like I said, we need to be smart when we play. And that is something that I was backing myself to do."

Rohit also highlighted the need to "not just be one-dimensional" when being challenged by the conditions.

"You've got to understand [that the] bowlers are smart as well. They're going to not bowl into the breeze a lot," he said. "So you've got to open up all sides of the field, [and] not just be one-dimensional. And that is something that was going through my mind all through. I was thinking to hit the ball everywhere possible. And when you keep an open mind and not think about just playing one shot, you can open [up] and access all sides of the field. And that is something that I was trying to do."

India had lost Virat Kohli for a five-ball duck, and got only six runs in the first two overs, after which Rohit went on the offensive. He hammered Mitchell Starc for four sixes and a four in what turned out to be a 29-run over, with two sixes over the covers, and one each over midwicket and short third, the last top-edged.

"Look, it's been a good wicket. And that is something you want to do as a batter - when you see the wickets are good, you want to try and back yourself to play those kind of shots," he said. "And I've been trying to do that for a few years now. So, yeah, I'm glad that it came off pretty well today."

The last time India had met Australia in a global tournament, it was the final of the ODI World Cup last November. Australia had beaten India by six wickets to lift the trophy on that occasion, but defeat to India in this game has left them hoping for a Bangladesh win, that too by a specific margin, in the last Super Eight game, against Afghanistan.

"It is quite satisfying, especially when you play like that," Rohit said about beating Australia. "We know the opposition and the threat that they bring with them as well. But I thought overall, as a team, we played well. We kept doing the things that we are supposed to do, and what we know the best. And yeah, we can take a lot of confidence from a game like that."

India face England in the semi-final in Guyana on June 27, having lost to them by ten wickets in Adelaide in the semi-final of the previous T20 World Cup in 2022.