Rohit Sharma had to wait for seven years after his international debut in 2007 to earn his Test berth. Finally, after 108 ODIs, Rohit managed to wear the whites.
He couldn’t have asked for a better start — scoring back-to-back hundreds in his first two Tests against the touring West Indies in 2013. Unfortunately, it remains the only high points of Rohit’s 16-Test career in which he averages 33.18. In the 27 innings thereafter, Rohit managed to score only four half-centuries.
What hurts Rohit’s reputation the most is that the gifted Mumbai batsman, known for his strokeplay, has not been able to play to his potential in the longer format.
Rohit is back against the same opponents — this time in the Caribbean — for a four-Test series. It is another opportunity for the stylish batsman to redeem himself in Test cricket.
The way Rohit performs on the slow Caribbean tracks is likely to have a bearing on whether he manages to keep his place in the team during the 13 home Tests that India is set to play in the season.
Though former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad does not see the West Indies tour as a make-or-break series for Rohit’s Test career, he has high expectations from the 29-year-old to make the most of his opportunities. “Playing at home and overseas is very different. Yes, he hasn’t done as well as one would have expected him to do in Tests. He is a terrific player and has a wide range of shots in his armoury. He now has to make the most of it,” Gaekwad told HT on Thursday.
Gaekwad wants Rohit to spend as much time as he can on the wicket. “There is nothing wrong in his game. All that he needs to do is stay on the wicket. With the quality that he possesses, he need not worry about where his runs will come from. It will come automatically once he is in the middle,” said Gaekwad.
The experimentation to make Rohit open the innings did wonders to his limited overs career. Skipper Virat Kohli would have hoped for a similar effect when he sent Rohit to bat at No 3 against Sri Lanka last year. The experiment failed though as Rohit scored only nine runs in the first innings of the Galle Test which India went onto lose despite being in a commanding position. In the second innings he was sent at No 4 after nightwatchman Ishant Sharma but managed to score only four. Rohit returned to his original position at No 5 for the remaining two Tests in the series.
Rohit’s childhood coach Dinesh Lad wants his ward to focus hard on shot selection and build on his temperament. “He has managed to get some good starts in the Test matches, but he often rushes with his shots. He needs to be very particular about his shots. He has the hunger and skills to do well in Tests, but needs to build on his temperament. He has not justified his talent in Tests as yet,” said Lad.