The openers have played a big role in Team India’s current form and the victory streak it has been enjoying for quite some time now.
Indian Team has been efficient as an all-rounder team, and especially under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, the players have excelled in their respective domains.
For a team to perform exceptionally, the opening batsmen need to layout the base for the other batsmen to perform with the flow.
The duo of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started opening for India in the Champions Trophy, 2013 and since then, they have been unstoppable.
Rohit started as a middle-order batsman but the Team management and MS decided to push him up the order and it turned out to be one of the finest decisions to date.
Rohit Sharma adapted his batting style to open the innings for the team and soon he went on to become one of the toughest openers in World Cricket.
Rohit Sharma has had a great influence on the brilliant form of Indian Team not only as a batsman but also as the vice-captain.
With Rohit Sharma on the crease, Indian fans are always confident of some brutal shots and pitch-perfect timing.
Rohit Sharma has not only been one of the most prominent faces of the Indian batting line-up but also holds the record of highest score by an individual in ODI cricket.
In his career as an opener, Rohit has slammed three double-centuries in ODI format and has a prolific record against the opponents.
He has been a great asset to the Indian batting and will continue to do so shortly. The player has built his image in such a way that Team India can’t even imagine any other player opening the scoresheet better than him.
Rohit is in a brilliant form and ruled the year 2019 with a record-breaking World Cup performance. His international presence was felt by the opponents when he scored through one of the most prolific patches of his career.
For a while, Rohit has been on top of the scoring chart and it was time that the hectic schedule will ponder over the batsman’s fitness.
Though Rohit can outshine under pressure and lead the team along, the pitch conditions demanded more from him and this led to a brutal injury in the last match of the T20I series against New Zealand.
The last T20I against New Zealand saw Virat Kohli rest himself, and instead, Rohit Sharma wore the captain’s hat. India was made to bat first by the opponents and in the course of his half-century, Rohit incurred a calf injury and was forced to retire hurt.
Rohit couldn’t recover from the injury and was benched in the second half with KL Rahul taking up the responsibility to captain the side.
It seemed like a regular injury but Rohit Sharma recently boarded the flight to India and will not be playing the ODI and the Test series against New Zealand.
The first ODI is currently in action and the militant duo of Dhawan and Rohit was replaced by debutants Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal.
They gave the team a good start but Rohit Sharma’s absence was felt in the opening round-up and it is a talking point for the upcoming matches.
Replacement for ‘The Hitman’?
With Rohit Sharma out of the squad, the pressure will be on Virat Kohli and KL Rahul to lead the innings. Rahul, who plays as a middle-order batsman in the ODI format for the team subtly handled the pressure and along with Shreyas Iyer rooted the innings and lead the team to a whopping total of 347.
The start of the innings was not as expected but the two replacements, Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal set the momentum for a great run.
Their partnership was rather short-lived and the two failed to make an extensive impact on the opponents. It was endearing to watch two debutants open for India but every fan in the crowd missed Rohit Sharma’s fiery shots and New Zealand looked quite confident against India without the hitman in the squad. The Indian selectors have given a chance to Mayank Agarwal as a replacement for the vice-captain.
Mayank Agarwal undoubtedly is a brilliant choice as an opener but Manish Pandey should have been given this opportunity to prove himself with KL Rahul opening the innings alongside Mayank Agarwal or Prithvi Shaw.
Sanju Samson was tried in a few T20I matches against New Zealand but his lack of form has denied him the opportunity to open for the team.
In the upcoming test series against New Zealand, Shubhman Gill and Prithvi Shaw have been called to replace Rohit Sharma.
With Rohit Sharma out of the squad, Manish Pandey had an opportunity to prove his mettle, as he did in the T2oI matches. This was only the first match and two more ODIs are there for the captain to experiment with the batting line-up and hopefully, Manish Pandey will get his due as the first choice middle-order batsman after Shreyas Iyer.
How long will it take for Sharma to return?
Some reports suggested Rohit Sharma would be fit and fine to return within a few days but the injury seems to have taken the better of the batsman and he will take more time than expected to recover.
Sharma is likely to miss the South Africa series that will see the Indian team host the Proteans. Rohit Sharma’s injury is more serious and brutal than it was initially thought of and reportedly the player will miss on a good amount of cricket before making his comeback to the Indian team.
This is the first time Rohit Sharma is missing on an ODI match after 2018. He has been constant with his performance and batting throughout this time and was on the peak of his form when this injury hit him.
The calf injury will take longer than expected to heal and it will be difficult for the right-handed batsman to make a comeback anytime before the IPL (29th March 2020. Rohit Sharma’s injury is quite serious and this is a worrying question for the captain.
Currently, Rohit Sharma is ruled out of the ODI and Test series against New Zealand but it is most likely that the Indian fans will not get to see the hitman later in the South Africa series too.
According to The Times of India, Rohit Sharma has already requested for a rest for the South Africa ODI series that will see the two teams go head to head in three matches. This might be an opportunity for the selectors and the captain to experiment with the squad and give chance to fresher talents.
What challenges will Virat Kohli face?
The biggest challenge for the captain will be to find a replacement who could play a subjectively longer inning and stabilize the batting line-up.
For India, opening batsmen have been the most crucial and with no experienced batsman in the top-order, Captain will have to find ways to send KL Rahul to open the batting.
Virat Kohli will have to step up for the challenge and this will be an opportunity for the younger lot to showcase their skills against one of the best teams out there.
Rohit Sharma is an integral part off the team and there is no doubt that the team and the captain will miss his batting prowess. Virat Kohli will not only be short of a brilliant opener but also the captain will step out without the regular vice-captain by his side.
KL Rahul has been in a brilliant form lately and knows how to stabilize the innings but the recent tours have seen him play as a middle-order batsman in the ODI format.
KL would be an ideal choice as an opener but it will be a challenge for the captain to balance the team in the middle-order.
Without Rohit Sharma, there would be a lot of challenges, not only for the captain but also for the players. This will be a great time for the players to function as a team.
Rohit Sharma’s statistics against the top teams
Rohit is undoubtedly one of the finest batsmen out there and his statistics speak accordingly. Sharma has played vital roles for the team and is the only player in the history of cricket who has scored three double centuries in ODI cricket.
He is one of the most phenomenal players in white-ball cricket with an impeccable amount of records to his name. He has rightly performed like the ‘Sharmaji ka ladka’ and outshone the cricketing greats. Rohit’s record against various teams is as follows:
Australia: Rohit has played 40 ODI matches against Australia and has comfortably scored 2208 runs against them. With the help of 8 centuries and 8 half-centuries, Sharma has been successful in polarizing the kangaroos with his batting prowess. At an average of 61.33, Rohit is one of the most dangerous Indian batsmen for Australians and his highest score against them is 209.
England: Rohit has a fantastic record against the English and in the 13 matches he has played, Sharma has scored 454 matches with 137* being the highest score. The player has 2 centuries and 2 half-centuries to his name and an average of 50.44 to support his batting.
Pakistan: Pakistan has been India’s biggest rival and when the two teams clash, the support is more than that of Ashes. In the 16 matches, Sharma has played against Pakistan, he has scored 720 runs at an average of 51.43 with the help of 2 centuries and 6 half-centuries. His highest score against Pakistan is 140.
New Zealand: His record hasn’t been that good against New Zealand comparatively but the batsman has always found some spots to score beautifully. Rohit has scored 703 runs in 22 innings at an average of 33.48 with 147 as the highest score. He has registered 1 century and 4 half-centuries against the Kiwis.
West Indies: Rohit has a fantastic record against the Windies that is averaged at 60.92. In 31 innings, Rohit has scored 1523 runs with 3 centuries and 11 half-centuries to the support. His highest score against the Windies is 162.
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka is that team, against whom Rohit registered the highest score to be made by any batsmen in the history of ODI cricket. Rohit Sharma’s highest score of 264 came against the Sri Lankans and his record against them is pretty decent. In 45 innings, Rohit has scored 1665 runs at an average of 46.25. Rohit has registered 6 centuries and 5 half-centuries against the Lankans.
South Africa: South Africa is one other team against whom Rohit hasn’t been that successful. In 24 innings, Sharma has scored 766 runs at an average of 33.30 with 150 registered as the highest score. He has scored 3 centuries and 2 half-centuries against thee Proteans.
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