Mumbai: Once all the Sachin Tendulkar euphoria had died down and people had left the Wankhede Stadium, Rohit Sharma walked across the ground for the post-match press conference.
About an hour earlier, Rohit was handed the Man of the Series trophy for his outstanding centuries in India’s lone innings in both Tests, and was the only person who didn’t mention Tendulkar, answering all the questions — which were about his own batting — in a to-the-point manner.
That’s the new Rohit – more withdrawn, more compact at the crease and someone with total self-confidence.
It wasn’t out of disrespect to Tendulkar; perhaps he wanted to get the interview over with quickly so that the master could have the stage for his farewell speech.
In the press conference, after all, Rohit did sing paeans to his fellow Mumbaikar.
But this confidence and form factor makes him the frontrunner to fill the void left by the great man at No. 4 in the Indian batting line-up.
When Rahul Dravid left, Cheteshwar Pujara had been groomed and was ready to take over his number three slot. When V.V.S. Laxman retired, Virat Kohli seamlessly moved into the slot. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan have been more than adequate replacements after Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag were dumped as openers for their string of poor performances.
It’s only the No. 6 slot once occupied by Sourav Ganguly where a permanent replacement hasn’t been found. As per the current Test squad, another Mumbaikar, Ajinkya Rahane, is the next batsman in line for a crack at that slot.
The Big Four took five years to vacate their spots — from Ganguly’s retirement in 2008 to Tendulkar’s on Saturday — and what’s certain is that between Pujara, Kohli, Rohit and Rahane, India’s middle-order future doesn’t look bad at all. But the upcoming tours to South Africa (bounce), New Zealand (seam) and England (swing) will each provide unique challenges for the talented youngsters.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.
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