What makes Rohit Sharma a good test cricket opener?

The recent up-gradation of the batting order in the test series against South Africa showed some immaculate batting performance of Rohit Sharma. He became the fifth Indian opener to score 500 plus runs in a single test series. The new spot not only saved the place for Rohit in the test for a while but also gave India the new option for strengthening the batting side. This article analyzes the strengths and limitations of Rohit.

The whitewashing of the Proteas in the recent Test- Series by 3-0 was the sheer showcase of Indian domination, in all sides of the game from bowling to batting including the proper game plan. In the last two games, India won by an innings which made Virat as the only Indian captain who has enforced the most number of the follow-ons on the opposition. Amidst these achievements, trying Rohit Sharma as the new opener changed the game for the better.

In the series that ended on 19 October 2019, Rohit Sharma scored 529 runs with his maiden double century and presented his strong position for the opening spot. Alongside Mayank Agarwal, he strengthened the batting order and relieved middle and lower order to keep the scoreboard running and that too with a good run-rate. Now for every cricket fan, the question arises - Can Rohit fill the place for quite some time? Only time will tell but the least we can do is some research to find out the answers while analyzing Rohit's strengths and limitations.

Rohit Sharma with his immense experience knows how to respond to the conditions out there. The evolving Rohit now takes some time to settle and once he sets his eye on the ball, he takes minimal effort to be the nightmare for the bowlers. He knows when to adjust with the new ball and then dominate the bowlers even in aggressive fielding set-up without shying away from the lofted shots to score.
People, now, have started comparing him with Sehwag with his bold style of play. If we see Sehwag's stats then in his 22 appearances where he opened and scored 100 or more runs, India lost on only 4 avenues and this shows the strong presence of Sehwag as an opener. Moreover, the Indian openers have shown their contributions to the test matches played since 2015.

India has played around full 50 test matches since 2015 and bagged around 35 wins with around 9 losses. Now in these 35 wins, there were around 17 instances where the openers together contributed more than 20 percent of the total runs scored by India in the first innings. Furthermore, the openers scored less than 20 percent of the total runs(first innings) in 6 losses out of the total 9 losses conceded. So, the performance of the openers is highly favorable to the team's victory.

Now with the advent of such performance, the speculation of having a successful upcoming reign of Rohit is inevitable but there are other factors to consider before getting too excited. In this very series, the bowling attack of Proteas didn't seem effective enough to match India's batting excellence. This series showed some good pitches as compared to typical low bounce high spin subcontinent ones. On the spinning track, African spinners were no match to the Indian counterparts and under seaming business too, Indian fast bowlers were able to capitalize much better with the conditions.

So it would be pretty early to say how Rohit would perform in other conditions and against much competitive bowling side for Rohit's ODI suited footwork could be an issue in lateral swing conditions, especially against the inswing bowling. Time and again we have got to see his uneasiness against the left-arm pacers that show the ability to swing inwards for the right-hand batsman.

Nevertheless, with such flair in technique and experience in mindset, he can overwhelm any opposition and is always a treat to watch. Indian fans would love to have him contributing in test matches too with India being on the top of the charts.

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Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao11 Nov 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

A very good analysis by the author about the capabilities of Rohit and his performance as an opener of the innings in test matches.

The speciality of this batsmen is that he can adjust himself quickly to the need of the hour. He can show his patience when required and he can also show his aggression when he has to show that. In this test series against South Africa, he played very well and proved himself as the best person for the opening slot.

In the world cup matches, he was the maximum run-getter and he showed that he can score runs quickly when required. I remember that he was the Man of the Series in the world cup tournament.

Last week, in the second T20 match against Bangladesh, he scored maximum runs by sixes and fours and saw to it that India will win that match. He realised that he has to score runs very quicky and did that. Thus he established himself as the best batsman as on date who can adjust in all the format of the game.

Rohit is a player who is very sound technically. A person who is good at technic can adjust himself as batsman or bowler. So without any doubt, we can say he is the best bet as an opener for all the formats of the game.

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