Rohit Sharma’s last involvement for the Indian cricket team was" />
October 03 2018
Rohit Sharma’s last involvement for the Indian cricket team was lifting the Asia Cup in Dubai after leading the Men In Blue to the title without losing a match. His next involvement with the Indian team would be watching on television while his teammates take on West Indies in a 2-Test home series.
Which makes us wonder, did the Indian selectors miss a trick by not recalling the in-form batsman back to the Test squad?
To be fair, Sharma’s best performances for India have not come in the all whites. Despite starting his Test career promisingly with back to back centuries in his first two Tests, he has managed just one more ton in the 25 matches he has played. In total, he has just 1479 runs at a paltry average of 39.97.
An average just under 40 is not bad by any means but where Sharma has really struggled is away from home. All 3 of his Test centuries have come at home and on home soil, he averages 85.44. But in foreign conditions, his highest score is 79 and he averages only 25.35 and that’s where the problem lies.
But a few things need to be considered here. One is that Rohit has always been a slow starter. Never mind his two Test centuries in his first two matches, when it came to ODIs, he averaged just 30.43 with only 2 centuries in his first 6 years. But since then, his average has improved to 46.17 and he has struck 19 centuries. 3 of those tons have been converted into double centuries; keep in mind that no one else has 2 doubles.
Another major reason for the change in his ODI fortunes was his promotion in the batting order to an opener. That is the position where he has excelled and that is where he should be played in Tests as well. Early in his career, he had the tendency to throw his wicket away after getting a good start but his technique and temperament have improved since then.
Besides that, the major reason for the brickbats thrown at Sharma are two disastrous away tours, the 2014-15 series in Australia and the 2017-18 tour of South Africa. While he failed miserably in both the series, he wasn’t the only one failing and except Virat Kohli, no Indian really thrived either. And playing Rohit as an opener might just have changed his fortunes.
Rohit was overlooked for the recent Test series in England where – with the exception of the peerless Kohli – the Indian batting really struggled in away conditions. While there are youngsters waiting for a chance, a player who has established himself in the shorter formats and has shown an appetite for huge scores was well worth giving another shot to.
Having just finished the Asia Cup as the winning captain and the second highest run scorer, with 317 runs at an average of 105.66, now would perhaps have been the perfect time for Sharma to cement his Test spot as well. High on form and fitness, a relatively easy outing in the longer format as an opener in a home series against a West Indies team in transition would’ve been the perfect stage for Sharma to finally come alive in the longest format.
But unfortunately, it was not to be and Sharma is not in the squad. With Shikhar Dhawan also axed form the squad, KL Rahul is set to open the innings and will be partnered by either Prithvi Shaw or Mayank Agarwal. Both of them have performed well in the domestic circuit and definitely warrant a Test debut.
Rohit, however, will have to make peace with watching on television and focusing on impressing the selectors by excelling in first-class cricket. White ball cricket and red ball cricket might be worlds apart but for a player with three double centuries in One Day cricket, scoring one or two in Tests shouldn’t be that difficult.