Rohit Sharma’s True Test As An Opener Will Be During NZ Tour In 2020
When Rohit Sharma hit 5 centuries in the 2019 ICC World Cup, there were cries from all corners to get the dashing opener into the test team. India had tried Sharma in the 5-day format on a number of occasions. But he was usually at number 5 or 6, and he did not perform consistently. This could hurt India at the bookmakers in the future.
Since India were struggling to find a good opening combination, many Indian fans thought that Sharma would be given the opportunity to open the innings during the test matches against the West Indies. However, head coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli chose to back KL Rahul. He failed and ultimately ended up losing his spot to Sharma for the home tests against South Africa.
Rohit Sharma Hits A Classy Century
Sharma did not waste the opportunity of being given the chance to open. He cracked a fantastic century on the opening day of the first test match against South Africa in the Freedom Series. Sharma and Mayank Agarwal put together a double century partnership and both remained unbeaten on the first day. Agarwal wasn’t too far behind, notching up a century of his own.
He took a few overs to find his feet, but once he got the timing of the pitch right, Sharma played fluently and dispatched the bowlers to all parts of the ground. This century will take the pressure off Sharma for the next couple of test matches. That would allow him to settle down in the openers slot.
Real Test Will Be In Overseas Conditions
While the selectors will be pleased to see Sharma perform as an opener, his true test will come when Indian tour New Zealand early next year. India play two tests against South Africa at home, followed by a one-off test match against Bangladesh. Sharma should not have any problems handling the sub-continent conditions.
However, his technique and temperament will be tested when India tour New Zealand. India are set to play two test matches and Sharma will be put to the test in swinging conditions against quality bowlers such as Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Lockie Ferguson.
The most difficult place to bat in conditions that swing and seam is right at the top of the order. Sharma has a weakness outside the off-stump. You can be sure that the Kiwi bowlers will look to exploit his weakness.
If Sharma does well in these two test matches, then you can be sure that India has found a reliable opener in Sharma. However, if he fails in both test matches and gets out cheaply, questions will be asked about his technique in overseas conditions.
Multiple Benefits Of Having Sharma In The Team
For now, India will be happy to see Sharma firing at the top of the order. There are multiple benefits of having Sharma in the test team and batting up the order. Rohit Sharma is a senior statesman in the side and brings with him a wealth of experience.
He has only played 27 test matches, but Sharma has been around the Indian cricket team for the last decade and commands respect in the dressing room. He will serve as a great mentor to young Agarwal, who has played just 4 tests. That would be a good bonus for the national team.
Free Stroke Play
The last time India had a dynamic test opener like Sharma was when Virender Sehwag opened for India. Sharma has the ability to score quickly and this should help India put more pressure on the opposition.
Sharma has a good pair of hands and will strengthen the slip cordon!