Why Rohit Sharma is indispensable to Team India in home Tests
Opener’s incredible home record in Tests and success on wicked turning tracks have made him indispensable to Team India.
MUMBAI: It’s easy to understand why Rohit Sharma felt that the treacherous wicket in the third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium, which saw the match wind up inside 48 hours, was rather ‘easy to bat on.’
On a pitch where batsmen were spooked by spinners every ball, and a wicket was falling every other minute, the star opener cracked 66 in the first innings, out of India’s puny total of 145, and then finished off the match in style with his signature shot – dancing down the wicket and smashing the ball to deep mid-wicket – off England captain Joe Root, who had taken five for eight in the first innings with his rather dangerous looking off-spin for those conditions.
On a similarly challenging turner in the previous Test, Rohit cracked a masterly 161, out of an Indian total of 329. It was an innings which proved to be the sole difference between the two sides, and allowed India to come back into the series. Many felt that it was the classy Mumbaikar who deserved the man of the match award, even though the eventual winner, Ravichandran Ashwin took 10 wickets and scored a hundred in the game! Nevertheless, it was a masterclass on how to thwart spinners on a pitch which Jonathan Agnew of BBC termed as ‘not good enough for Test cricket‘.
What makes the classy Rohit such a dangerous batsman even on a dust bowl? His former teammate and close friend Abhishek Nayar offers an important insight. “Any cricketer in Mumbai has to counter tough conditions while batting in local cricket. As a youngster, Rohit has played on wickets with red soil, on which the ball spins like a top, and in the Kanga league, where spinners become even more dangerous since both the wicket and the ball are wet, and the ball skids. Like it happened in Ahmedabad, you don’t know if the ball would stop and come, come straight or turn. If you see his sweep shot, it’s a very natural, ‘Mumbaiya shot,’ since the sweep comes handy while playing in turning conditions.
This is why most Mumbai batsmen, for example Shreyas Iyer, are very good players of spin bowling. If you don’t know how to play spin, you won’t be able to survive in the local leagues,” Nayar, now an assistant coach with KKR.