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India vs England 3rd Test at Southampton: If picked, Rohit Sharma would strengthen Indian batting

If picked, Rohit Sharma is likely to replace Stuart Binny © Getty Images
If picked, Rohit Sharma is likely to replace Stuart Binny © Getty Images

Reports suggest that Rohit Sharma would be picked for the third Test at Southampton. Normally, MS Dhoni doesn’t change his winning combination, but Rohit’s inclusion may strengthen a batting unit that has shown an unwanted tendency to collapse. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the implications of Rohit’s possible selection.

MS Dhoni doesn’t normally believe in changing winning combinations. More often than not, he persists with a successful unit, unless circumstances or conditions warrant otherwise. But, on the eve of the third Test against England at Southampton, there was a word that Rohit Sharma might get a look-in after two games on the bench. At the nets, he got a longer run, which in a way was an indication that the team management are considering him. What are the implications if Rohit comes into the side?

The obvious sacrifice for Rohit’s inclusion would be Binny. Though he essayed a match-saving innings at Nottingham, he failed in the second Test at Lord’s. Picked as a seam-bowling all-rounder, Binny was underused with the ball and perhaps the team management may deem Rohit a better option, bringing in greater value. It will certainly help strengthen the Indian batting line-up, which has been prone to collapses. On this tour, the lower order has done well to pull them out of tough situations.

Rohit would certainly merit a place in the middle order, but where would be take his spot? Since the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit has batted at No 5 with Virat Kohli at No 4. That meant Ajinkya Rahane batted at No 6. In the last two Tests though, Rahane has batted at No 5 and recorded that brilliant ton on Day One at Lord’s.

Given the way he performed at Lord’s, Rahane merits the No 5 spot. There is no point in disturbing his rhythm, now that he found form there. Though Rohit was the preferred No 5 on previous tours, he would have to make do with No 6. Dhoni has done well at No 6, but would have to drop a slot down. Rohit’s inclusion would make this line-up stronger and give it more attacking strength.

If Rohit is picked, he has a chance to improve on his overseas record. In the four Tests away from home, he has had a tough time and hasn’t been able to adjust. In South Africa, he was done in by pace and movement. Even in New Zealand, the moving ball caused him a few problems. On his day, Rohit looks elegant with a dash of laziness. Thus, when he gets out, it looks as if he has thrown it away by falling to his temptation. There does seem to be a tendency to play away from the body at times, which has been his undoing.

It would thus be a very important game for Rohit at Southampton. In four overseas Tests, he has only one fifty and doesn’t do justice to his ability. Given the time he has on his hands to play his strokes, and the obvious timing, it would be unfortunate if he doesn’t succeed in England. All he has to do is wait for the ball and play his strokes, rather than going for it.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)

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