Even though the likes of Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni used the long handle at the Premadasa Stadium on Friday, on the eve of India's third ODI against Sri Lanka, the focus was on two youngsters for contrasting reasons.
While Rohit Sharma was working hard to rediscover his run-scoring
ability, Manoj Tiwary — the man who has spent 13 ODIs in a row on the bench since scoring a century against West Indies last December — applied himself, hoping he would play on Saturday.
With the hosts levelling the series with a nine-wicket win at Hambantota on Tuesday, calls for Rohit — whose mediocre run in 2012 continued with five runs in the first two games — to be replaced by Tiwary have got louder. It remains to be seen if the team management decides to let the Bengal batsman have a go.
No doubt Tiwary is frustrated, having to warm the bench for eight months. And with Rohit failing to translate his immense talent into runs of late calls for Tiwary to be given at least one opportunity, after being ignored in the tri-series in Australia and the Asia Cup.
Wait and watch
"Whenever Manoj gets that opportunity, he will be and should be looking forward to that. He should do well whether he gets that in the next game or later, no one knows about that," Gautam Gambhir said on Friday. "But the important thing is whichever playing eleven gets picked should do the job. That is what is important rather than talking about individuals at this stage."
Rohit is as much frustrated as Tiwary. Ever since he featured in an India jersey for the first time five years ago, Sharma has been touted as the next big thing from the maidans of Mumbai. But he has simply not been consistent.
Gambhir hinted that Sharma could still be persisted with on Saturday. "When people talk about form, whether the person is in-form or out-of-form, the important thing is how he is feeling about his batting. You can’t be batting well but you can still be getting runs. If you are comfortable with your batting, and know you are batting well, then somewhere down the line you will score runs," Gambhir said.
"Whenever we see Rohit batting in the nets he is batting the best to be honest amongst all of us. So it is just a matter of time before he will be among runs. But we need to show faith in him because he is a quality player and I see him scoring lot of runs for India in the future."
Sharma himself would be hoping his time comes before it's too late.
Writer's trip is sponsored by Ten Sports.