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Rusty Rohit finds the going tough now

Just like his shaky 21-run knock against Australia in Melbourne on Sunday, Rohit Sharma looked out of sorts during his 17-ball stay at the wicket against Sri Lanka on Wednesday. Amol Karhadkar reports.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2012 00:19 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Just like his shaky 21-run knock against Australia in Melbourne on Sunday, Rohit Sharma looked out of sorts during his 17-ball stay at the wicket against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

However, one cannot blame the Mumbai youngster for looking rusty in the two outings, for he has done nothing but warm the bench for a better part of the long series.

The 24-year-old boarded the flight to Australia on the back of tons of runs in domestic and international tournaments. If his brilliant run for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy was enough to get him a Test berth - for the third Test against the West Indies - his Man-of-the-Series performance against the Caribbeans in the ODIs sealed his place in the Test squad for Australia.

Warming the bench
But once he arrived here, it's been an endless wait for the middle-order batsman.

Thanks to the team management's indecisiveness over dropping non-performing seniors, Rohit didn't get a game all through the series. As a result, he seems to have lost the touch.

Adequate game time is crucial for any sportsperson, especially cricketers. All the long hours spent in the nets count for nothing if a cricketer doesn't get match practice. And, Rohit is a prime example of that.

This is where Indian cricket should take a cue from Australia. When Shaun Marsh couldn't score a run during the recent Test series against India, he was asked to play club-level cricket - referred to as 'grade cricket' in this part of the world - to regain his form. And once he scored 79 in a club game, he was asked to play a first-class game (Shield cricket) to take the next step forward towards returning to international cricket.

"That would be his (return) path for the (series against) West Indies," Australia coach Mickey Arthur said on Wednesday. "He will have to keep knocking the door with the weight of his Shield runs.

"The Shield is a really good breeding ground. We will see how things unfold later in the One-day series, but for now, we are happy to see him get runs in the Shield consistently."

Not just Marsh, even Shane Watson and James Pattinson, who are returning from injuries, have been asked to play grade cricket in Sydney over the weekend.