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Is It Sharma the right No. 3 for Team India? Is It Sharma the right No. 3 for Team India?

Aug-17-2015 | 0 Comments


GALLE: There is an oft-used adage in cricket which says, "form is temporary, class is permanent". But of what use is 'class' that doesn't deliver.

Rohit Sharma is in his ninth year of international cricket and two years into his Test career. Over this period, his average stands at a modest 35.84 from 12 Tests. He only has two hundreds to show - scored in his first two Tests at home against a mediocre West Indies attack.

From then on in the next 19 innings, Rohit has only managed two fifties - 72 against New Zealand at Auckland and 53 against Australia in Sydney. But more than his scores, it's the manner of his dismissals which have caused concern. The Mumbai batsman has always had a lazy elegance about his batting, which makes for spectacular viewing when he is on song but it can't permanently hide technical deficiencies in his batting.

Like most Indian batsmen, there is this susceptibility against the moving ball which South Africa, New Zealand and Australia have exploited. Rohit also has a tendency to jab at the ball outside off-stump, a habit developed during years of playing ODI cricket (he made his ODI debut in June 2007). So why a batsman with an 'iffy' technique should bat at the pivotal No. 3 position? For one, he has the backing of his captain Virat Kohli.

"I think you have to back your best players. People that you think can be match-winners for you, you have to back them and the reason why Rohit started getting more chances again was because Cheteshwar (Pujara) was going through a phase where he wasn't getting too many runs. So it was a case of giving another batsman a chance," Kohli said after the Galle Test which saw Rohit fail in both innings.

Batting at the No. 3 position is not everybody's cup of tea. One needs a water-tight technique against both spin and pace, something that Rahul Dravid displayed for years. In recent times, Rohit has shown a weakness against quality spin bowling. Nathan Lyon and Moeen Ali troubled him in Australia and England, in the one-off Test in Fatullah it was Shakib Al Hasan who sneaked the ball past his inside edge and finally Rangana Herath opened up his defence easily in the second innings of the Galle Test.

"Right now, Rohit has got three or four chances at No. 3. We obviously need to have a discussion on the batting unit as a whole about what guys are thinking and what the mindset as a whole is like. I think it's a case of getting to know every particular batsman's mindset at present and where he stands mentally and how comfortable or how relaxed they are to go out there and play free cricket because that's what eventually the team needs," Kohli feels.

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