Rohit Sharma's long wait ends; joins Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara as India's Generation Next in the Test line-up

Making his debut during Sachin Tendulkar’s final Test series is symbolic for Rohit Sharma (above). Like many other young Mumbai players, he would have dreamed of playing with the legend and to get his Test cap from him is a great honour © AFP

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

“I have to be patient. That is what I have been saying for two years. There is nothing in my hand; I can’t do much apart from scoring runs. So, I am hoping I get back very soon”Rohit Sharma speaking about his Test chances in 2012.

In conversation with this writer in November 2012, Rohit Sharma declared that all he could do was score runs and hope to regain his Test spot. A year down the line, some inspiring performances in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) have paved the way for a return to the Test side. With 4,802 First-Class runs at an average of 60.78, Rohit should have walked into the Indian Test side a few years ago. However, inconsistency at the highest level and a little bit of bad luck delayed his Test cap. But the long wait has finally ended.

Since his international debut in 2007, Rohit has been a part of the Test setup a few times. In 2008, he was picked for the tour to Sri Lanka. Then, in 2010, he was called up for the series against South Africa at home as India were troubled by injuries. As luck would have it, he twisted his ankle on the morning of what could have been his Test debut at Nagpur. With the weight of runs behind him, he forced his way back into the side just before the tour to Australia in 2011-12, but warmed the benches there. A torrid run in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) then pushed him out of Test contention in 2012.

Instead of making his Test debut at 22, he dons the whites at 26 — which is on the older side going by normal Indian standards. In that interval, the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane beat him in the race for spots. So, it did baffle the Indian fans and it begged the question: Was he being judged on limited-overs performances? After all, his First-Class record is magnificent and the weight of those numbers alone could help him into the side. In some ways, his inconsistency in the blue jersey did affect his chances as it did not inspire a lot of confidence. In contrast, Kohli’s dominating performances in ODIs enhanced his stature and the selectors could not ignore him for a Test berth.

In 2013, Rohit has shown great maturity and application in ODIs. In tough circumstances, he has shown the patience to battle it out and pace his innings accordingly. Earlier, he seemed impatient and would lose his wicket attempting an unnecessary shot. After being asked to open his batting, he tempered his instincts to complement the attacking Shikhar Dhawan. The change in mindset has given him confidence and he has gone on to script two epics in the space of a week or two. That will hold him in good stead as he takes his first steps in the Test arena.

Making his debut during Sachin Tendulkar’s final Test series is symbolic for Rohit. Like many other young Mumbai players, he would have dreamed of playing with the legend and to get his Test cap from him is a great honour. Tendulkar can now leave the field assured that Indian cricket is in safe hands. Pujara and Kohli have already established themselves in the Test line-up and have given ample evidence of their ability. Time for Rohit to join their league and in tandem, they have to carry Tendulkar’s legacy forward.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)