India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli speaks about Rohit Sharma as Test opener, compares style to Virender Sehwag
Rohit Sharma did not have an entirely auspicious start to his stint as an opener in the longest format as he was dismissed for a duck in the warm-up clash between Board President’s XI and South Africa. However, Indian captain Virat Kohli has thrown his weight behind the right-hander as he believes the Mumbai-batsman needs to be given space and time to excel in the role.
“...if he comes into his own then the whole batting order looks a completely different batting order anywhere in the world,” added the skipper. Asked if the management is thinking of giving Rohit at least five to six Tests, Kohli said: “We are not looking to rush him. There is a different pattern you follow in India and different abroad. Opening is a spot where you have to give a player space to understand his own game,” Kohli said ahead of the match.
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Kohli acknowledged the fact that the opening slot was a position where a player needed to be given space and hence, the management was not looking to rush Rohit. He also stopped short of comparing his style to Virender Sehwag, but did acknowledge the fact that if hits his stride and takes the game forward, it will change the context of the match.
“We are not looking at a certain kind of display of batting from Rohit. It is about him finding his game at the top. Yes, his strength is to take the game forward. Like what Viru bhai used to do for the team for a long period.
“So, it is not as if someone would have told Viru bhai to attack and get a hundred before lunch. His natural instinct took over and he could demolish attacks once he felt comfortable,” he explained.
“He definitely has the ability. If the wicket is challenging and then obviously you won’t see him smashing the ball, he knows what to do.” Kohli revealed that the idea of promoting Rohit from the middle order was considered long ago but could only be implemented in the current scenario after and out of form K L Rahul was dropped from the side.
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“For Rohit as well, clarity of role knowing that you have to play in a certain way, is very crucial for a player and for us the communication happened long ago.
“But we could not see a situation but now there is a situation and it is an ideal time to go ahead with it because we have spoken about it. ODIs was same with him.
“He was batting in the middle order and then suddenly opening conversations happened and within 6-8 months he was opening and we all know what happened after that. If he can do what he did in ODIs, it will be great for Indian cricket.” With the World Test Championship up for grabs, Kohli said Rohit succeeding at the top will help the team hugely.
“We have given people opportunities in the past. Mayank (Agarwal) came into the system, KL had been there for a while, (Murali) Vijay was there for a while. So there will always be room for people to come in because of their performances.
“But we feel because we have a Test championship to look forward to and Rohit’s been in the Test set up for a long time it’s about providing him the opportunity and find that template that he wants to in Test cricket,” the skipper said.
Since the start of 2016, he averages 53.00. Despite these numbers, he has played in only 11 of India’s 40 Tests and if Kohli’s statement was a metric, he could get an extended rope in this new role.