Reborn Ro­hit is mak­ing most of Test chances

The National - News - - SPORT | CRICKET -

Once touted as the “next big thing”, Ro­hit Sharma’s Test out­ings have been cur­tailed by in­jury, in­con­sis­tency and In­dia’s qual­ity lineup, so now that he has an­other chance to ful­fil his po­ten­tial he has no in­ten­tion of tak­ing his foot off the pedal.

When an age­ing Sachin Ten­dulkar was be­gin­ning to fade in In­dia’s crick­et­ing fir­ma­ment, fel­low Mum­baikar Ro­hit hit two cen­turies in his first two Tests in 2013 to send ex­pec­ta­tions soar­ing. But the mid­dle-or­der as­pi­rant then fal­tered and his chances at Test level over the next five years dwin­dled, even as his white-ball rep­u­ta­tion soared.

Ro­hit was handed the op­por­tu­nity to re­vive his Test ca­reer in last month’s home se­ries against South Africa and the 32-year-old player grabbed it with both hands.

Play­ing his first Test se­ries as an opener, Ro­hit smashed three 100-plus knocks, in­clud­ing a dou­ble ton, in four in­nings to fin­ish as the lead­ing scorer by some dis­tance.

“It was a great se­ries but as long as I’m play­ing, there will be no time for me to re­lax,” he said.”I don’t want to look back now. I just want to fo­cus on do­ing well ev­ery time I go and play Test cricket and fo­cus on what are the good things that I did in this se­ries and take that for­ward.”

Ro­hit’s red-ball strug­gles have been in stark con­trast to his white-ball prow­ess.

The right-han­der is the only batsman with three 200-plus scores in one-day­ers and smashed a record five cen­turies at this year’s World Cup even though In­dia fell at the semi-fi­nal stage. “The red ball does a lot more than the white ball,” Ro­hit said.

“So you have to keep telling your­self that you have to fo­cus more, and be more dis­ci­plined in shot-mak­ing. In one-day cricket, once you get past the pow­er­play overs, the field is spread. You can just take sin­gles and ro­tate strike and then odd bound­aries here and there will come.

“But Test cricket is not like that. There are a lot of catch­ing po­si­tions, so you have to be very dis­ci­plined.”

Ro­hit’s 27 ODI cen­turies in­clude 10 big knocks of 140 or more. “I to­tally be­lieve that when you get to a hun­dred, you’ve done such hard work to get there, so why let it go? Get an­other 50 or hun­dred.

“When you are bat­ting on a hun­dred, the op­po­si­tion knows you are a set batsman. They are on the back foot, think­ing, ‘OK, we need to be safe with this guy, and try to at­tack the other guy’.

“That is where you can cash in. Once you’re set, there’s no way the bowler can get you out, un­less it’s a peach of a de­liv­ery.”

Win­ning the man of the se­ries against South Africa was spe­cial but Ro­hit knows he must score away from home to erase any lin­ger­ing doubts about his Test cre­den­tials.

“Hun­dred per cent, we all know that. But for me, cricket is cricket, whether it’s in In­dia or out­side,” he said.

“If you don’t per­form in In­dia, how can you per­form out­side? Home or away, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter. Per­for­mance is what mat­ters to me.”

Ro­hit will con­front a new chal­lenge in a two-match se­ries against Bangladesh which in­cludes a day-night Test in Kolkata.

“I’ve played only one pinkball game in the Duleep Tro­phy ... We need a lot of more ex­pe­ri­ence with that ball, but it’s a great time for us to play a day-night Test.”

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