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India vs New Zealand: Rohit Sharma irons flaws to hit timely Kanpur ton

India opener Rohit Sharma scored his 15th ODI century against New Zealand at Green Park in Kanpur on Sunday.

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 30, 2017 18:46 IST
Siddhartha Sharma
Siddhartha Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India vs New Zealand,Rohit Sharma,Indian cricket team
Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma raises his bat after hitting a century during the third ODI against New Zealand at Green Park in Kanpur on Sunday.(AFP)

Before the Kanpur ODI, a few local left-arm seamers were summoned to the India nets. The brief given to them was simple --- bowl in-swing and also move the ball off the pitch, especially to India opener Rohit Sharma.

Why this sudden emphasis?

Head falling over, a half-cocked stride and the habit of closing the face of his bat against in-swing too early had resulted in many of Rohit’s dismissals. New Zealand had exploited this chink twice in this series --- Trent Boult got Rohit in Mumbai while Tim Southee humbled him at Pune.

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Rohit’s 15th century in Kanpur was a testament to his will to learn but he should be wary about not letting it rear again, especially not at a time where India seem to be enjoying a problem of plenty when it comes to options.

Compared to his last two innings, Rohit seemed better balanced in Kanpur. An on-drive against Boult --- played with a straight bat and with the head not falling over --- in the eighth over was indication that Rohit had overcome his problem.

As a batsman who likes to play on the up, Rohit doesn’t have a full stride. That means that even though he might succeed in covering the line of the ball, Rohit is usually found wanting against off-the-pitch deviation.

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Like when Australia seamer Jason Behrendorff trapped him lbw in Guwahati a few weeks back. In Sri Lanka earlier this year, Rohit lost his wicket to an inexperienced Viswa Fernando in the fourth ODI. Pakistan seamer Mohammad Amir trapped him this way in this year’s Champions Trophy final and earlier in Dhaka in 2016. He got out twice to Boult in 2016 and a year before that, Australian pacers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson accounted for him twice.

Out of 140 ODI dismissals, Rohit has been dismissed 21 times by left-arm quicks. The number may not be alarming but considering the paucity of left-arm pacers in international cricket, it surely points out a major weakness in Rohit.

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Rohit though began his correction work immediately after the Champions Trophy. He widened his stance in West Indies to reach the pitch of the ball. A few good knocks followed but Rohit went back to his old stance. In no time did he start getting dismissed in old fashion. Reworking technical problems like this takes time but with the World Cup just 18 months away, Rohit can’t leave it too late.

India’s current rotational policy means players like Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul could be tried and tested till Virat Kohli is absolutely sure about the combinations he wants to take to England.

Injury, rather than poor form, has seen Rohit sit out on most occasions. But with the scope for a long rope shrinking, it was pertinent Rohit showed up with a ‘correct’ innings. Kanpur did that to him.

First Published: Oct 30, 2017 18:31 IST