One would have loved to conclude that Rohit Sharma had indeed arrived on the big stage for Team India, after he ran riot with centuries and double centuries at home, against Australia and West Indies in the couple of months leading up to India’s just concluded tour of South Africa.
Rohit’s flamboyance against Australia and West Indies, in Tests as well as in ODIs, was impressive indeed, and it strongly underscored the paradigm shift in his career following a switch from middle order to the opening spot in January, earlier this year. A month-long journey through the wilderness of South Africa, however, has ensured that Rohit Sharma’s career is back to where it was a year or two ago –punctuated with innumerable enigmatic questions about temperament, technique and longevity and engulfed by the sepulchral aura of ‘failure to deliver when it matters’.
Rohit Sharma in South Africa-
|1st ODI, Johannesburg||2nd ODI, Durban||1st Test, Johannesburg||2nd Test, Durban|
|18||19||14 & 6||0 & 25|
Last 5 ODI innings at home – 79, 209, 72, 12, 4
Last 2 Test innings at home – 177, 111*
Is he just a flat track bully?
The torrential downpour of runs from Rohit’s bat in the last one year was mainly centred on the flat tracks presented to him in India, and that too against bowling attacks which need no special mention for their fragility. However, a year amongst runs (2013) provided Rohit Sharma with the much needed relief from the protracted stretch of failures that had been frustrating him for the last six years in international cricket.
A spot in the Test side naturally followed for Rohit in the wake of his phenomenal run in the shorter format of the game. Two back to back hundreds against a below-par West Indian side gloriously inaugurated Rohit’s Test career just before he was selected for the challenging tour of South Africa.
The Indian prodigy’s dream run in 2013 has come to a dismal end with India walking away from South Africa without having won a game in either the ODI or Test series. And, not to mention, Rohit Sharma was perennially at the receiving end on this tour, even with impressive year-long batting credentials to boost him in the fight against the challenge of Steyn and co.
His failures in South Africa brought back poignant memories of his past trials and tribulations in our minds – as he failed to make any impact on his team’s fortunes as an opener in the ODIs, which India ultimately conceded to the hosts without putting up even a semblance of a fight.
Rohit’s discomfort while facing the moving and bouncing ball was quite discernible to the layman’s eye, ushering into spotlight the question on Rohit’s overseas credentials. The Test series, too, transpired without any notable contributions from him(except an immature and utterly futile verbal duel with DALE Steyn in the Durban Test!).
Will he survive in New Zealand and England?
Let’s consider the ODIs first. Rohit Sharma had appeared as the unanimous answer to India’s opening woes, after a dismal end to the Gambhir-Sehwag era. That faith on Rohit is now going to take a severe hit just before India embarks on the adventurous tours of New Zealand in January and then England, in June.
Persistence of question marks on Sharma’s ability to play well on foreign trips shall yet again invite prospects of instability in the Indian opening pair. This shall be last thing that the Indian team would like to put up on its agenda before venturing into a yearlong spell of tours followed by the World Cup in 2015.
As for Tests, Rohit’s flamboyance at home shall mean nothing in the absence of complementary performances abroad, where his team shall need him even more. Even though his Test career is still at a nascent stage, most cricket experts and fans have envisioned him as one of the lynchpins of the future Indian Test line-up.
Considering that the Indian team has only just started to settle down after a spell of tumult at home and abroad in the last two years, Rohit needs to come good in the middle order in the Test matches for India in the near future, if the team is to entertain any chances of regaining its long lost numero uno position in the longer format of the game.
The questions shall persist as long as Rohit does not shoo them away with some gutsy performances in upcoming New Zealand tour. Let’s hope that this charismatic Mumbaikar does it perfectly well!