Vizag 176 will be defining innings of Rohit Sharma’s Test career: Sachin Tendulkar

A Few years ago, Sachin Tendulkar had tipped Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to carry his legacy forward in Indian cricket. Virat Kohli is now the undisputed king of world cricket and while Rohit Sharma had long since asserted his authority in the shorter formats, a classy 176 in Vizag underlined his promotion as an opener in Test cricket.

Several cricket experts over the years were left perplexed with Rohit Sharma’s inability to translate his remarkable talents into success in Test cricket. He started off with hundreds in his first two Tests before struggling to make his mark consistently. However, after 5 hundred in the 2019 World Cup, it was clear as daylight Rohit would soon be given a longer run in Tests.

The middle-order is packed and each man selects himself. Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkjya Rahane are the backbones of this batting line-up while Hanuma Vihari secured his spot with some sterling performances in the West Indies. Rohit Sharma was then slotted in to open against South Africa in the first Test in Vizag after the team management finally lost patience with KL Rahul, who had opened alongside Mayank Agarwal in West Indies.

Rohit Sharma grabbed the opportunity with both hands and scored an entertaining 176. He also added 317 for the opening wicket with Agarwal. The two are now only the third Indian pair to add 300+ for the first wicket in Test cricket. Incidentally, Rohit Sharma was dismissed for a duck in a warm-up match against the South Africans days before the opening Test but such is his class that Rohit overcame the disappointment in style once the Test match got underway on Wednesday.

“Before this innings he got out for zero but these practice matches don’t count. He has got runs when it counts. I think this innings is a defining innings for him,” Sachin Tendulkar told India Today.

Rohit Sharma’s record-breaking numbers as an opener in white-ball cricket are well documented. But the world wanted to see how he countered the early swing against the red new ball.

Sachin Tendulkar said Rohit Sharma’s decision to walk down the track to counter Vernon Philander’s swing early in the innings proved decisive. “For me the turning point was when he decided to step down the track to negate Philander’s swing. As it is he was batting outside the crease. Till then Philander had bowled three good overs to him. He reduced the distance and forced him to change his line and length. South Africa was then forced to ask the wicketkeeper to come up. That’s one thing the fast bowler never enjoys. The bowler gets distracted and I think Rohit forced Philander to distraction. It was a game-changing moment,” he said.

“After that we know Rohit’s class. The way he batted, his front foot defence; the manner in which he began to defend with a long stride forward, that was special. Once a batsman of Rohit’s calibre gets going, it’s difficult to stop him. Watching Rohit’s batting always becomes fun,” he added.

Having seen off the new ball, Rohit Sharma became difficult to dislodge and his 244-ball 176 laced with six sixes made many wonder if he could become the next Virender Sehwag in the Indian Test team.

Tendulkar refused to get into the comparison game. “I would say there should be no comparisons. Both Sehwag and Rohit are fantastic players. But I am not a big fan of comparisons personally.

“But when it comes to talent, I have no doubt that he can get runs against any attack in any conditions in the world. He has proven every now and then but the change in position to opening slot requires a different mindset and over a period of time he will gel into this position. He has started with a huge explosion.

“Everyone was expecting him to do something big and he has not disappointed anyone. Rohit has a tremendous ability. (He is) someone whose bat swing is I think one of the best in the world. And I want to wish him all the very best,” Tendulkar said

 

Courtesy : India today

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