Rohit Sharma is back into test reckoning, no he is not making a comeback in test cricket. He was part of the squad for test matches against West Indies but was not part of the playing eleven. Selectors have picked him for South Africa tests also but this time KL Rahul has been dropped and if rumours are to be believed Rohit Sharma is going to have a crack at opening the innings in test format. Rohit has been around for a while in Indian cricket. He made everybody notice his talent when he scored a half-century batting with Tendulkar in the first final of the tri-series against Australia in 2008. Yes, he has been around for 11 years, he made his debut before Kohli. He started his career and played as a middle-order batsman till 2013 until one day MS Dhoni decided to give him a go at opening the innings against England at Mohali and Indian cricket and Rohit Sharma’s ODI career changed forever. He is the only man in the history of ODI cricket to make three double hundreds. He has the highest score in ODI cricket, 264 against Sri Lanka. Now the selectors want Rohit Sharma to play as an opener in Test cricket, it is a move that could backfire and may end Rohit Sharma’s test cricket career as the middle order slot has been booked by Hanuma Vihari and there are openers like Ishan Porel and Abhimanyu Easwaran waiting in the wings.
Opening in red-ball cricket is very different from opening in white-ball cricket. White ball cricket does not challenge you as much as test cricket does. The short forms most of the times have a set template for an innings. You start with the powerplay, the ball if swings, will not swing after 10 overs and the bowler is trying not to leak runs rather than getting you out. You don’t have three slips and a gully waiting for you. Test cricket challenges you in more ways than ODI cricket can ever do. You may be inserted by opposition skipper under cloudy skies at Headingley and all you would be thinking in the first hour is to leave and survive. On other days, you may be getting in with 5 overs remaining in the day and again you will be thinking to play out the day. There may be a chance that your captain does not enforce the follow on and you are getting on with the game in the second innings. You may encounter swing on the first day but when you are battling to save the test on the last day, the surface might be turning square with 5 men round the bat.
Test cricket gives you a chance to come back also. There is always a second innings that you can fall back on. Rohit Sharma might find it easy to start against South Africa at home but the real challenge that he and India are looking at is when India tours abroad. We have failed with Dhawan, Murali Vijay and now KL Rahul and instead of giving chance to new blood, the selectors have decided to give the last chance to Rohit Sharma. If he clicks, Rohit Sharma has that outrageous talent to turn test cricket as he has done with ODI cricket. He is not the first one to be tried like this. England tried and failed with Jason Roy in the Ashes where Roy’s hard hands going at the ball found him wanting at the test level. There are examples of Warner and Sehwag which Rohit Sharma can look up to take inspiration. Sehwag will come in handy to talk to as Rohit Sharma does not have technique issue but it is the temperament which he needs to work on. He is good enough against the short ball and has the technique to score big runs at the highest level.
Rohit has played 27 tests till date and has three hundreds, all scored in Indian conditions. An average of 39.62 is a decent one but you find that an average of more than 85 at home and just 26 away tells you the reality and the frustration the selectors and fans have with Rohit Sharma. The hitman is a legend in short forms but has not made a mark in the longest format. We all want Rohit Sharma to do well as it will be a spectacle to behold.