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Rohit Sharma struggles to crack the South Africa conundrum

Rohit Sharma averages just 12.10 in 11 matches in South Africa as against his career average of 44.54 as his struggles mount in the country.

cricket Updated: Feb 08, 2018 00:08 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
Rohit Sharma,India national cricket team,South Africa vs India
Rohit Sharma has struggled to score big against the Proteas in South Africa, averaging well under 15.(BCCI)

Back in 2013, Rohit Sharma’s introduction to South Africa was a nightmarish one. He faced 43 deliveries, managing just 18 in the first ODI at Johannesburg as India lost by over a 100 runs. (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA, 3rd ODI UPDATES)

The passage that stood out during that knock was Dale Steyn bowling to him as the India opener failed repeatedly to get bat to ball. Since then, he has struggled in the country. (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA, 3rd ODI SCORECARD)

Although the 30-year-old has become one of the most feared openers in limited overs cricket since that outing, he has failed to crack the code in South Africa.

On Wednesday, in the third ODI here, he failed to get off the mark edging a delivery that he was trying to leave. The India opener now averages just 12.10 in 11 matches in this country as against his career average of 44.54.

A dashing India opener failing in South Africa has happened in the past too. Virender Sehwag too failed in South Africa, averaging just 15 as against 35.05 in his ODI career. Sehwag too failed to get even a fifty in South Africa.

Rohit’s fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan, who scored his second successive ODI half-century on Wednesday, was asked about Rohit’s poor form ahead of this game. True to the manner in which Indian players defend each other, Dhawan not just refused to accept that his opening partner was struggling, he ridiculed the suggestion, saying that he is in superb form.

“I feel Rohit is playing amazingly. The way he’s timing the ball has been amazing. Even in the last match he was playing very well, but unfortunately he got out. I don’t see any concerns with his batting – he has performed so well from Champions Trophy till now.

“It happens that sometimes you don’t score runs, but the way he’s timing the ball is what matters the most. There’s no problem. Maybe you think there’s a problem, but I don’t. It’s just a matter of one innings and he’ll score runs. Then all problems will get solved!”

It remains to be seen if that innings comes in the next three ODIs here.

Unlike in Test matches, when each of his failures looked glaring as the batting strugged as a whole. But India can afford to ignore Rohit’s failures in ODIs as other batsmen have risen to the occasion.

With skipper Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane doing bulk of the scoring so far, Rohit’s failures have been covered up. And with the Proteas’ bowling looking spineless and lacking the bite, his poor run, even if it continues, is unlikely to be of any worry.

First Published: Feb 07, 2018 19:38 IST