Rohit must justify Dhoni's faith in him to make the rotation policy a success

MS Dhoni’s (left) has reshuffled the seniors to give Rohit Sharma an extended run, but the talented Mumbai youngster has not quite justified his captain’s faith so far in the CB series © Getty Images

 By Madan Mohan

 

I have been a fan of Rohit Sharma for a long time. Well, at least ever since the day he supported Sachin Tendulkar with maturity beyond his years in the first CB Series final of 2008 in Sydney. I would love to see him cement his place in the Indian ODI squad (we can talk about Tests later!).  And for that, he must repay the support afforded by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni… with runs, big runs. 

 

The 2008 edition of the CB series saw the Dilip Vengsarkar-headed selection panel drop veterans Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from the ODI squad. The move was heavily criticised, but with a little help from Tendulkar, Dhoni’s men silenced the critics by winning the series. Rohit was then cast in a supporting role in sealing one of those victories and looked like he belonged. 

 

Cut to 2012 and we have the bizarre spectacle of India’s top-order batsmen being rotated to create room for Rohit in the team.  Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar have been rested for a match each so that Rohit can get a fair shot at proving his worth.  Dhoni is adamant that Rohit must remain in the batting line-up. His faith in Rohit must be heartening, especially to those who have suspected that he and Rohit don’t get along.  But Rohit has to deliver on his promise, or he may have run out of chances. 

 

A recap to 2008. I couldn’t have imagined when I watched Rohit carefully construct his valuable 66 in that Sydney final that he was so prodigal. His technique resembled – and still does — Tendulkar, but his approach is as cavalier as former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin. Much like that gifted Hyderabadi, Rohit bats like a millionaire. He gets his eye in quickly and bats with consummate ease and then throws it away… again and again. 

 

In two ODI series against West Indies last year, he raised hopes that he may have turned a corner with six half centuries against them, including a 95. But in three ODI innings so far in this series in Australia, his highest so far is a 33 on Sunday in the match India won. He had a chance to support Gambhir (who scored 92) and finish the chase. Instead, yet again, he threw it away. 

 

It may seem I am not very sympathetic about a player I claim to be a fan of. Rohit, after all, didn’t get to bat all through the Test series and he may need some more time to get going in Australian conditions. And the team’s rotation policy, given India’s star obsession, has only focused undue attention on his performances. He will now be watched by the prying eyes of vultures waiting to write him off. 

 

But that is the story of Indian cricket, and it has been that way for a long time. It was no different when Ganguly and Dravid broke through, either. There is also a more practical problem in persisting with Rohit: the team has a wealth of batting options to choose from. If Yuvraj Singh had not been inflicted with cancer, he may well have been available for selection. There would have been no room for Rohit in the line-up had Yuvraj played.  Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel also have a case for inclusion, no worse than Rohit, I have to say. It could be argued that if top order batsmen are going to be rested, it makes more sense to play a top order batsman like Patel rather than Rohit. 

 

Hence, it is imperative for Rohit to grab his chances and seal his middle order slot.  Coincidentally, he has been afforded a lifeline in the same country where he made his mark four years back. If his performances here don’t clinch his case, it may be the end of the road for him. 

 

And, frankly, as talented as Rohit may be, talented batsmen not making the most of their opportunities and fading away is nothing new in Indian cricket. But as a fan, I would hate to see that happen. Come on, Rohit

 

(Madan Mohan is a 26 year old chartered accountant from Mumbai.  The writing bug bit him when he was eight and to date, he has not been cured of it. He loves music, cricket, tennis and cinema and writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake. He also writes a blog if he is not feeling too lazy at http://rothrocks.wordpress.com/)