India vs Australia: Rohit Sharma could have a breakout Test series, feels VVS Laxman
Rohit Sharma is playing his first Test since January. @AFP

Former India batsman VVS Laxman believes that Rohit Sharma could finally produce the sort of Test performances that have evaded him so far in his career, despite being a permanent fixture in India’s ODI and T20I teams.

Rohit lost his place in India’s Test team after two poor matches in South Africa in January, where he managed 78 runs in four innings at 19.50, but forced his way back into for the tour of Australia after a superb run in limited-overs cricket this year. Given the nod ahead of Hanuma Vihari at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, Rohit made 37 off 61 balls, hitting three sixes, before he fell attempting a second in two balls off Nathan Lyon.

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Laxman backed India’s decision to pick Rohit ahead of Vihari, who has played one Test.

“I think that’s the right call,” said Laxman on a show for ESPNcricinfo. “When you pick someone like Rohit Sharma who is experienced …. and I understand that he hasn’t converted his talent into performances in Test cricket … and you have him in the squad, then you need to give him a chance. Hanuma Vihari got an opportunity and he did well in challenging conditions against good quality bowlers in England, but when you have someone as talented as Rohit Sharma it is important to make him play.”

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In 25 Tests before the start of the Adelaide match, Rohit averages 39.77 with three hundreds – all in India – and nine fifties. Away from Asia, that average falls to 23.90 with just two fifties. In 2018, with 967 ODIs runs, Rohit averages almost 70. In T20Is, he has 586 runs in 18 matches at an average of 32.50.

This form, felt Laxman, could finally produce a breakout Test series for Rohit.

“I have a feeling that this can be a breakthrough series for Rohit. He’s game,” said Laxman. “The Australian conditions suit his game. He loves the ball coming onto the bat, he’s a good back-foot player and the kind of form he’s shown in white-ball cricket, I think he should play with the same mindset. The game plan he trusts so much in white-ball cricket, I hope he has the same for Test cricket and trusts it.

“Once he does that and plays his natural game at No 6, I think he can score runs quickly and play an important role in building partnerships with the tail-enders which is so important.”