India vs South Africa: Going to Give Rohit Time at Top of the Order - Shastri
India’s home Tests against South Africa, apart from anything else, are being seen as an opportunity for Rohit Sharma to not only establish himself as a red-ball player, but also cement his place as an opener in the format.
Seeing his transformation in white-ball cricket, after Rohit started opening in 2013, many experts believe that similar results might come his way in Tests too.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, head coach Ravi Shastri revealed that it was a well-thought move to send Rohit at the top of the order.
“I told Rohit, way back in 2015-16, to start opening for Mumbai.
“Always felt he had the X-factor. But it is always difficult, not easy for a No. 5 or 6 to do it. But it is just a mind thing, if he gets over it, he is going to be a match-winner there as well, and we are going to give him time. We are not going to push him.
In fact Shastri revealed that his own experience in opening the batting for India, from a middle-order batsman helped in making this move.
“The main reason why I told him in 2015 because I was speaking from my experience. There are a lot of players who should have opened for India, just to eliminate a batsman, but very few had the balls. Sometimes in the subcontinent you just need five batsmen. That was my opportunity, that’s how I got to open the innings.
Shastri also remembered the small chat he had with Virender Sehwag, before he was pushed to the opening slot in Tests, and later went on to become one of the greats of the game.
“I had met him at a team get-together on the West Indies tour (for ODIs in 2001-02) when there was talk of asking him to open (in Tests), and I had a chat of 15 minutes where I told him to ‘go for it because that could be your best position’. The rest is history, he made it his own. I told him opening is just a mind game. (A month later, India toured England and Sehwag opened in the Tests).