For the first six years of his career, Rohit Sharma wasn’t the ‘Hitman’ that he is today. He had the silken cover drive as well as the majestic pull but his ODI statistics mirrored his current staggered Test career numbers.
Rohit held an average of 30 in 81 ODI games until the then captain MS Dhoni came up with the idea of promoting him up the order in 2013.
He took to opening like fish to water and is now a limited-overs batting powerhouse. His cumulative average stands at 48.5 in 218 ODIs and has added 25 tons to his two in the middle order before 2013.
Indian cricket is hoping the switch to being promoted as a Test opener does the same magic to Rohit’s long format returns. Currently, he averages 39.6 in 27 Test matches spread over the past six years, with just three fifties to show outside the sub-continent.
The challenge ahead of India’s leading white-ball performer will be immense as the adage ‘different ball game’ will come alive when he fronts up against South Africa in the upcoming Test series.
One of the leading Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan examines. “It’s an interesting thought for sure. Rohit has been opening in white-ball cricket for a long time now. So that’s something which should help him once he is taken this route of opening in Test matches as well,” said Zaheer told CricBuzz.
“When you go back in Test matches, and you are batting no. 5 – no. 6, the rhythm of the game is different for you. So I think from that aspect for Rohit Sharma, it would be an easier transformation
“He will possibly feel comfortable with that kind of mindset because he is used to it for white-ball cricket which he plays regularly and has been opening for a long time,” the former Indian pacer added.
But Zaheer felt that this might create some issue for other openers for Team India.
“Though, it can have a negative impact in terms of other openers. And I am giving examples of openers who have been part of this team namely Shikhar Dhawan. Prithvi Shaw is not available at the moment, will be coming back. So we have to wait and see. Murali Vijay is someone, will be thinking where does he stand now in terms of his comeback. So all those kind of aspects will come into play.
“But it’s an interesting thought as far as Rohit Sharma’s Test career is concerned for sure. Because he is someone you don’t want to leave him out of the playing XI if he is part of the team. Very consistent with scoring runs, particularly World Cup where he scored those hundreds consistently. So you would want him to be part of playing XI for sure, and this is one way of team management to accommodate the purple patch which Rohit has been having for a while now,” Zaheer concluded.