VIZIANAGARAM: Rohit Sharma‘s tryst as an opener in the Test series against South Africa needed a major confidence booster ahead of the first Test next week. The tour game against the visitors was an opportunity for the 32-year-old Mumbaikar to get into the groove and dispel some doubts while exorcising the demons in his mind.
However, Rohit’s preparations lasted only four minutes and two balls. The Board President’s XI’s skipper left the first ball from paceman Vernon Philander alone but couldn’t resist pushing at the next one as it was pitched well up. But to Rohit’s chagrin the ball moved a bit late and the resultant edge was snapped up by a diving (substitute) wicketkeeper Heinrich Klassen.
A duck is definitely not the right start for Rohit, who is expected to begin his opening career in the first Test to be held in Visakhapatnam from October 2. It will not only do any good to his confidence but also brings to the fore the wisdom of using him as an opener.
Rohit is the most vulnerable at the start of the innings. Even in the limited overs game, Rohit is known to be a slow starter. He takes time to settle down and is most susceptible to fall during that period.
Test match cricket is an altogether different ball game as there is no let-up in pressure as the rivals keep probing at one’s weak spots. Temperament and technique are two essential qualities for a batsman to succeed as an opener.
There is no doubt that Rohit is one of the finest ODI openers in the world but will he be able to make the transition to be an equally competent Test opener is a billion dollar question.
Saturday’s ‘zero’ show will not only make things worse for the player and also the Indian team.
It could be said that this was only a warm-up game and therefore cannot be the proper way to gauge his potential as a Test opener. But the issue is not of form but of ability to measure up to the rigours of a Test opener.
And it was on this count that Rohit failed. Neither did he gain any confidence from his knock nor was he able to inspire confidence in those who are backing him as an opener.
One swallow does not make a summer but it could be an indicator of what lies ahead.
The road ahead has just got tougher for Rohit, who will be under tremendous pressure in the following games.