Up against the wall, Rohit takes heat off self with classical shotmaking
While the fans’ loudest cheers have been reserved for Virat Kohli, the support for Rohit Sharma is no less.
Still on the fringes of the Test side due to his repeated failures, Rohit’s superstar status, built on two double hundreds in ODIs, has allowed him a long rope.
He is drafted into the Test squad time and again, leading to raised eyebrows. He’s got several opportunities but has wasted them.
But on the eve of the Test, skipper Kohli insisted on the need to ensure his players felt comfortable, even letting them take the field with the confidence that they owned their places. His comments may have been for Rohit.
Perhaps it is this faith that makes the batsman impervious to pressure and be his natural self.
When Rohit walked in, India were well placed with a lead of close to 300. Another failure may not have impacted India’s chances, but it may have altered the script Kohli and coach Anil Kumble had written – a lead of 400-plus by tea and then four sessions to roll over the Kiwis.
The pressure was on Rohit but he soaked it in and showed he is worth risking the jibes. Perhaps most encouraging was his willingness to think.
The vigil prior to lunch got him just 12 off 28 balls with a couple of boundaries. Post lunch, with the threat of rain looming and having read the pitch, Rohit hit the ODI mode, raising 56 more off just 65 deliveries against a set of New Zealand bowlers who were clueless and had been playing to India’s tune.
The half-century (68*), his first after seven innings and in about a year, guarantees him a place for the next Test but more importantly, kept the match going according to the think-tank’s script.
Much of the self-belief on Sunday developed in the company of Ravindra Jadeja, who was already bobbing in a sea of confidence after his first innings’ cameo and five-wicket haul after that.
While Jadeja entered and began blasting runs, Rohit looked edgy but soon brought out his classical strokes that set him apart.
The knock wasn’t worth as much since India were already in control, but it surely gave Rohit some breathing space.
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