Recently, several eyebrows were raised when skipper Virat Kohli chose Rohit Sharma over Cheteshwar Pujara for the one off test against Bangladesh. Pujara did struggle outside the subcontinent and had a miserable 2014, when he averaged just 24.15 with a best score of 73. However, he was expected to be back at his no. 3 position, before Kohli chose Rohit. Several people were of the view that Pujara should be persisted with in tests as he has a solid mindset and temperament.
Should Rohit be the number 3 for India in Tests? Read more on this here.
Rohit Sharma might not have clicked against Bangladesh as he was dismissed for just six. Nevertheless, there are numerous reasons which support his inclusion in the team. In this article, we analyze that why investing in Rohit Sharma for test matches is a good idea, and why he should be given a longer rope in test matches.
Rohit Sharma is someone who oozes class in every frame. Watching him bat in full flow is a delight for every cricket lover. The ODI opener surely knows to make it large and has the ability to convert the starts into a big one. That is pretty evident from his ODI record. Once Rohit passes the score of 100, he just doesn’t stop there. Rather, the Mumbai batsman aims for a higher score. Pujara too has a similar appetite for runs, as he converts his starts into big knocks. But the thing working in Rohit’s favour is that he can score far quicker. Once Rohit is past a ton, in no time will he get to his double ton if he finds able support.
Cheteshwar Pujara struggled big time in Australia and was found to be all at sea against the short pitched deliveries. But, the one aspect which worried everyone was that Pujara was troubled massively by the spin of Nathan Lyon. Being a batsman from subcontinent, Pujara was expected to perform better against the spinner. Rohit too has an apparent weakness in his batting. It deals with the ball moving away. The elegant batsman often pokes to deliveries moving away from him, thus giving catching practice to the slip cordon. The Mumbai batsman surely needs to work out on his flaw, if he is to cement his place in the test side.
Another reason which supports the backing of Rohit Sharma is that he has the ability to excel in every possible condition. If as an ODI opener, he can have two tons in Australia while countering the new ball, then in tests too he can surely excel. The only thing which Rohit needs to do in tests is that he must be far more patient. The 28 year old must leave balls outside the off stump and which move away from him. Once he does that, he can definitely notch up a big total.
Sharma also batted at no. 3 against Australia in Sydney in the New Year’s test. Fair to say, Sharma did no bad to his reputation and performed well as he made scores of 53 and 39 in the two innings. In the first innings, he was set for a big one, before he was unfortunately castled by Nathan Lyon. In New Zealand as well, Sharma performed well as he made 72 in Auckland, when the rest of the batting collapsed like a pack of cards. In Southampton as well, he was well set before he went for aggression, which ultimately led to his dismissal. The significant thing is that Rohit indisputably can shine overseas. After his tours to South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia, Sharma averages a mere 23.75. However, his competitor, Cheteshwar Pujara too hasn’t done something noteworthy overseas, as he averages just 29.4. It’s true that Pujara has a 150 in South Africa, but that was on his second tour to the nation. He too struggled in his first tour to South Africa.
Critics often allege that Sharma has looked all at say in his first few overseas tours. After his first 9 tests outside the subcontinent he averages 23.75 and has just two half centuries. However, even VVS Laxman, the Indian batting legend averaged just 28.33 after his first 12 tests outside the subcontinent. The message being sent is crystal clear here. It’s high time that we do not judge Rohit by his first few tours. He is a much better player than what his results actually show. In the ODI’s too he had dismal numbers, before he was promoted to opening the innings and since then; Rohit has only been on the rise.
Sharma can surely make that no.3 spot his own in the time to come. The flamboyant batsman unquestionably has the talent and potential to notch up the big scores in test cricket as well. But for that to happen, the management must be patient with him. He must be given a rope of a few test matches, before actually taking a call on him. Ideally, for the Sri Lanka tests, Sharma must be persisted with. If things go according to plan for Sharma, then the Indian test team will truly find a priceless asset in its ranks.