CHENNAI: Form is an important word in sport. No matter how permanent class is, form at times isn’t relegated to the league of temporary. It’s a line of thinking that seems to be popular with the Indian team management. How well one is striking the ball is often a more important parameter than how efficiently some others have done the job.
Taking cue from the decision to drop the reliable Murali Vijay for the dashing yet not-so-compact Shikhar Dhawan, a few eyes will be on Rohit Sharma. Having scored a century in the second Test against Sri Lanka on return to that stage after 13 months, he has reclaimed the slot he seemed to have lost when Karun Nair scored an unbeaten 303 against England last year.
Because talk on Ajinkya Rahane being off colour stems from his failure in just four innings post a century in Sri Lanka, it may be premature to say Rohit’s return makes him uneasy. But given that the Shastri-Kohli combine is fond of the brand his Mumbai mate plays, failure hereon is expected to increase pressure on Rahane.
In all fairness, Rohit has to do more than he did in Nagpur against a listless attack, which had been battered for close to 130 overs before he came in. Pace, spin, fielding — none of the Sri Lankan challenge was Test level.
But to his credit, Rohit showed the hunger expected of a batsman at this level, instead of playing the spoilt brat. At times in the past, he got out playing shots unbecoming of Test batsmen, like getting caught at mid-off seconds before tea in England in 2014. Talent alright, does he have accessories to supplement that talent was the question.
“I don’t want to complicate things, which I did in the past when I just came into the team. I thought too much about it. ‘Oh no this is Test cricket, I have to do well. I have to do this and that’. I lost a lot of focus and forgot what I was there for. I have been waiting for this opportunity,” Rohit said after the second Test.
On view was a batsman who played his natural game, which is attacking the bowler when the situation permits.
Since there were opportunities to score, it could not be seen how Rohit reacts when tied down. But he still deserved credit like the penalty taker in football, whose success isn’t noticed, but failure gets magnified. And also for providing competition, which is a healthy element in a team aiming big.
Rohit’s average in 8 home Tests. All three tons have come at home.
Average in two Tests he has played in South Africa.
Average in 14 away Tests. Has 4 fifties in 25 innings in these games.