If Rohit Sharma can tighten up his defence, he can succeed as Test opener like Virender Sehwag: Sunil Gavaskar
Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar is of the opinion that if Rohit Sharma can tighten up his defence against the swinging cherry red, he can became a successful Test opener just like Virender Sehwag. Gavaskar's comment came amid the ongoing debate of trying out Rohit as an option to end India's opening conundrum in Test cricket.
Rohit's present Test numbers are somewhat identical to the ODI figures he had amassed during the initial days of his career as an Indian cricketer. Rohit managed an average of only 30 with two centuries in his first 81 ODI matches where he played as a middle-order batsman. But with MS Dhoni's insistence, he was pushed up the order in 2013, and the rest is history. Rohit added 25 more centuries to his name, increased his average to 48.5 and is now considered an ODI maverick. Indian cricket fraternity feels that Rohit can bring about a similar magic in Test cricket as well, where he averages 39.6 in 27 matches.
However, Gavaskar explained why it might be a different ball game altogether for Rohit. "Look we know there is a difference between red and white ball. The white ball can stop swinging in five overs. With the kind of stitches on the red leather, you may find it swinging even after the 35 to 40 over mark. "So facing up against swing is a different matter and he does struggle a bit against the incoming ball. Having said that, if his shot selection is good, he will be able to score in test cricket too," Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar has adviced Rohit to tighten his defence in a hope to succeed in Test cricket. "When we talk about Rohit Sharma, he doesn't have the water tight defence like Virender Sehwag. But he perhaps has more shots than Sehwag. Sehwag would not hit the ball so much on the on side. Rohit can use the pull and hook very well. So Rohit does have more attacking shots. If he can tighten up his defence against the good balls, he can also be successful like Sehwag in Test cricket."
Opening in Test cricket seems to be the only option for Rohit amid Hanuma Vihari's impressive batting in the middle order, who recently scored his maiden Test ton in the Windies series last month. Gavaskar feels if Rohit can put together one good innings in the upcoming Test series against South Africa, he can end up cementing his spot for the next two years.
"With the way Hanuman Vihari has batted in the middle order, it's difficult to see Rohit Sharma making a comeback in the middle order currently. So this is his best opportunity. We will know after a couple of Test matches. Visakhapatnam and Pune have good wickets. So if he can get one good innings going on these pitches, he could well end up opening in the next two or three years," Gavaskar said.