India may have beaten the West Indies comprehensively in the recent two-Test series, but the selectors are viewing a change in the opening combination for the forthcoming three-Test series v South Africa that begins on October 2. Chief selector MSK Prasad said yesterday that they could try Rohit Sharma as an opener against the Proteas, considering KL Rahul’s poor form during the West Indies Test series in which Rohit sat out. “We (the selection committee) haven’t met after the West Indies tour. We will definitely take this (Rohit as opener) point into consideration when we meet,” Prasad told India Today.Rohit’s possible new role was fully backed by ex-chief selectors Dilip Vengsarkar and Kiran More.
Vengsarkar had no doubts over Rohit succeeding as a Test opener. “To make him bat in the opening position or No. 3 or 4 doesn’t really make much of a difference. It is just about the mental state. It is a good thing that he will be opening; he will get a dedicated slot to bat in. “He is a world-class player and has proved it. Give him a platform, and he will perform. He delivered when the whole world was watching during his innings [of 140] against Pakistan in the World Cup. He is a big-match player, so I am sure he will succeed,” Vengsarkar told mid-day yesterday.
In 27 Tests [47 innings], Rohit has scored 1585 runs — a far cry from his limited overs record that has 10,000-plus runs in ODIs and T20Is. More, who has spent considerable time with Rohit at Mumbai Indians as the wicketkeeping consultant, said the classy batsman should walk into the Test playing XI. “Rohit can be part of the team’s XI anytime. He can bat at any position. He has the experience of opening [in limited overs]. It is a great asset for the Indian team that a player of his calibre is sitting out. It will be great to have him in the XI,” said More.
Irrespective of Rohit’s batting position, Vengsarkar is upset that the Mumbai batsman was not picked in the XI for the West Indies series. “Leaving a player like Rohit out of the playing XI was very surprising. He is a world-class player. Would the team management have dropped him if we were playing a strong team like England or Australia? “After scoring five centuries in the World Cup and being in such great form, it was unfair to leave him out of the playing XI. We don’t know why he was dropped,” said the former India skipper.
It can be recalled that Rohit skipped the fourth and final Test of the last Border-Gavaskar Trophy series to be with his wife and new-born daughter and India played the same batting order in the first Test against West Indies at North Sound.
Lad: Be cautious
Meanwhile, Rohit’s childhood coach Dinesh Lad is confident that his famous ward will succeed as a Test opener. “He has the technique and temperament to be a Test opener. I would only advise him to start cautiously and not play too many shots at the beginning of his innings,” said Lad.
The change in fortunes in Rohit’s limited overs career caused by ex-skipper MS Dhoni promoting him to open the innings has been well documented. Will a similar move resurrect his Test career too? “There is no question of a Test resurrection. He is a high-class player. He can open the innings against South Africa and score a lot of runs,” insisted Vengsarkar.