If a team constitutes of numerous star players, a few scapegoats are certainly there. Karun Nair turned out to be the unluckiest cricketer, at present, when he was ignored ahead of injury-return Rohit Sharma for India’s upcoming overseas tour of Sri Lanka. Karun, after his historical triple century against England in Chennai Test, has earned a place only in three Tests. Maybe Karun has not been instrumental with his scores following the Chennai game but he certainly deserved a few more chances before being axed from the side. Now that the selectors have already been unfair with Karun, it is Rohit’s responsibility to perform well and justify BCCI’s belief in him.
The two-time ODI double centurion, Rohit, has always had the backing of the BCCI, regardless of his form, even in the longest form of cricket. His career average of 37 from 21 Tests does not speak of his actual potential in the game. Despite the fact that the numbers are against him on several occasions, he makes his way into the playing XI.
For example, Rohit performed pathetically in two seasons at a stretch – 2014 and 2015—when he had not averaged even 30, but still managed to remain in the Test side next year. On the other hand, when Karnataka batsman Karun had two poor Tests, where he failed to record a half century in four innings, his door from the Test side was shut. Instead, Rohit has been roped in despite the fact that he has not been in the greatest of his forms in Tests. Apart from that, since Rohit underwent a severe hip injury a few months ago, it won’t be wrong to assume that he can again suffer from an injury, owing to the intensity of Test cricket.
The last time Rohit played international cricket was in October 2016 in the home series against New Zealand. He was a part of both Test and limited-overs squad. In the three Tests he played, he managed a half-century in every game. Prior to that, he was dropped from the first two Tests in the West Indies tour because of his poor form. Once again when he was recalled in the side, he failed. His scores in the four innings did not have a single fifty. In the entire long 2015-16 season of Test cricket, Rohit failed to register a single score in the triple digits. In the last 10 Tests he has played he has never been able to make the most of the opportunities he has received time again and again.
Considering India’s upcoming long overseas Test season, where they are expected to tour Sri Lanka, South Africa and England, Rohit’s numbers away from home do not quite support his inclusion. Let alone his average of 40.66 in New Zealand, there is no other foreign country where Rohit averages even 35. India’s 2015 Sri Lanka tour was Rohit’s first appearance on the island in the longest format and the 202 runs off six innings did not indicate it as a memorable debut in the neighbouring country.
Rohit, who was injured during the One-Day series against New Zealand last year, returned to action earlier this year in Vijay Hazare for Mumbai. While he played just two games, scoring a mere 20 runs. Mumbai failed to even qualify for the quarter-finals. He had a hectic season in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and led Mumbai to a three title. Rohit even had a more than average ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in England where he scored a century and two half-centuries and India will hope their opener will continue to retain this form when they travel to Lanka.
Indian Captain Virat Kohli opted to rest Rohit for the West Indies tour for the limited-overs series, in spite of his good run in the ICC event. “There is no doubt about Rohit’s ability and what he brings to the team. We need to protect him going further, because the latter half of the year we have massive tours coming up, and his batting contribution will be a huge factor for us. So we want him to be careful because after a massive surgery you do need to be careful. If you push yourself a little too hard then it snaps again, you’re out for seven, eight months,” Kohli said fully backing the opening batsman.
Rohit being among the senior players in the young Indian team will have to support their skipper and produce some smart cricket to validate the massive faith Kohli and the selectors have shown in him.