Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar — The triumvirate to emerge from tri-series in West Indies

(From left) Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Buvneshwar Kumar have carried forward their good form from the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 to the ongoing tri-series in the Caribbean © Getty Images

By Sumit Chakraberty
 
We will never know if Rohit Sharma would have curbed his tendency to throw it away with a loose shot after doing all the hard work, as he has done in earlier games of the tri-series as well as the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in England. He did play one airy square cut off Lasith Malinga which should have ended his innings at 11. But apart from that, he again showed he had both the technique and temperament to buckle down in tough batting conditions for an opener.
 
There were tufts of green on the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, and dark clouds in the sky, when India came out to bat in a must-win game against Sri Lanka to enter the tri-series final.
 
Perhaps the ball swung and seamed too much to find the edge of Rohit’s bat, as he was squared up and beaten more than once. What was good to see, however, was that he fought through it. He was 48 not out when the rain came pouring down to curtail the Indian innings at 119 for three. That was a pity because Rohit had just begun to open out with the conditions easing up. His slog sweep into the stands off Rangana Herath was a reminder that he was no grafter by nature. The real point of interest was whether he would have gone on to make a big one in the latter half of the innings. Now we will have to wait for the next time to see if the reformation of Rohit is complete. Few had given him much of a chance of coming good as an opener with his laid-back strokeplay, especially outside the sub-continent. But he has consistently got India off to good starts in the company of Shikhar Dhawan, both in England and the Caribbean, and that can be a really important factor in this team’s success going forward.
 
The other vital cog in the wheel is the opening bowler, and in Bhuvneshwar Kumar India have found a wicket-taker with the new ball. He had shown promise at the very outset in his debut series against Pakistan in India, but to carry on in the same vein abroad is a happy portent. Surprisingly, he was dropped after just one below par performance in the first match of the tri-series. Luckily, India’s substitute captain Virat Kohli quickly realised his folly and brought him back. Since then, Bhuvi has been the match-winner for India in both games. His four wickets for eight runs in six overs against Lanka on Tuesday came in treacherous conditions after a downpour on a grassy wicket, but even otherwise he has consistently moved the new ball both ways and batsmen have found it hard to pick him. The challenge for him now is to find a method to be effective with the old ball too and on batting wickets.
 
And that brings us to the last of the Indian triumvirate to add a new dimension to their game in this tri-series. Kohli has been India’s best batsman for a while now, but captaincy is still a work in progress for him even if he tasted success at the Under-19 level. He got off to a poor start in the tri-series, thrust into the role in the middle of the first game after MS Dhoni pulled a hamstring while taking a quick single. No captain is going to be perfect, and mistakes will be made. Cricket is a tactical contest and a captain has several options to choose from at different stages. The thing to look for is whether a captain is learning from the wrong moves he makes, or repeating them. Kohli has already shown that he belongs in the former category.
 
Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Virat Kohli — that’s quite a troika to emerge from this tri-series in the Caribbean.
 
(Former Sunday Editor and cricket columnist of DNA, Sumit Chakraberty has been a journalist for over 30 years, with earlier stints at Indian Express, The Times of India, BiTV and UTV. He is now an independent writer and blogs on cricket at http://cricketkeeper.blogspot.in . You can also follow him on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/sumit.chakraberty and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cricket_keeper)