Rohit Sharma’s innings of 52 laid the foundation for India to post a 300-plus total © Getty Images
Rohit Sharma was ruled out of the England tour due to a fractured finger ahead of the third One-Day International (ODI) at Trent Bridge to be played on Saturday. Devarchit Varma explains why it is not a good scenario for the right-handed batsman and Team India.
India were dealt a heavy blow when Rohit Sharma was ruled out of the remainder of the five-match ODI series against England. India currently lead the series 1-0 and with Rohit getting crucial runs batting up in the order, India needed their batting star to get some runs under his belt ahead of the all-important Australia tour followed by the World Cup. India will next play ODIs at home against the West Indies, but the challenge of playing outside subcontinent is completely different which both India and Rohit have been stripped of that with the injury coming in at a very wrong time.
Nothing can be actually said about Rohit’s form in England, though he did squander a chance to make it big in the only match he appeared in the marathon Test series. Rohit did well to bounce back and smash a half-century in the second ODI at Cardiff in which India pummelled the hosts by 133 runs. It in a way hinted that the opening batsman is definitely a different league in coloured clothing. Rohit forms a critical opening pair for India along with Shikhar Dhawan, and with the latter struggling on all fronts in England, India find that their woes are only increasing. They no longer have a batsman to rely on in the opening slot.
Rohit looked composed and a man on a mission during his innings of 52, which came off in as many as 87 balls studded with four boundaries and a six. He wasn’t intimidated by James Anderson and the fall of couple of quick wickets also did not deter Rohit. During the innings Rohit might have uncharacteristically consumed a lot many balls, but the fact that India posted a target in excess of 300 proves that Rohit’s innings indeed laid foundation for the middle-order to bat with lot of freedom.
Rohit has had success in England and it was his exploits at the opening slot which played a crucial role in India’s success in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. He scored 177 runs in five matches at an average close to 36, and formed a dangerous opening pair with Dhawan. India are likely to go into the ICC 2015 World Cup and the absence of Rohit for the next three ODIs against England will not only deprive the right-handed batsman of good match practice against quality bowling attack in tough conditions, but will also hamper the team’s planning and confidence in a holistic view. Had Rohit and Dhawan got to appear in all five games in the ODIs, they would certainly have felt lot more confident going into a tough season.
The poor form of Dhawan will now hamper India’s planning process ahead of the three ODIs and the World Cup, as the exit of Rohit only depletes the firepower at the top of the pecking order. Dhawan can be one of the most destructive batsmen in international cricket on his day, but he has been struggling with the bat ever since the team landed in England. With the Rohit-Dhawan duo no longer there in the top-order, skipper MS Dhoni will have to look for other options in the squad. In an ideal scenario, he would have liked his openers to get as much practice and a sound build-up to the important season ahead as possible.
Murali Vijay has been drafted into the side in place of Rohit. It’s been more than a year that Vijay played an ODI game, and despite his lack of experience in 50-over cricket India will hope that he shows the kind of form and application which he did in the Test series.
Complete coverage of India’s tour to England here
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)