Rohit world’s most dangerous batsman: Gautam Gambhir
Rohit Sharma caresses one through the covers. (AFP Image)

Of the many who were pleased watching Rohit Sharma score twin centuries in his first Test as opener, Gautam Gambhir has to be right up there. Gambhir’s praise for Rohit could be gauged by the fact that the former India opener compared India’s newest opener to his long-time India teammate Virender Sehwag and believes he’s the best batsman in the world at the moment.

“I have no apprehensions in declaring him as the most dangerous and the best batsman in the world today. Like Virender Sehwag, Rohit too can set up and chase Test wins for India. Just handle him with care and lots of love,” Gambhir wrote in his column for Times of India on Thursday.

“Whoever advised Rohit Sharma to play his natural game in Test matches was my man of the match. It is easy to get Rohit to get into a defensive mode just because it is Test cricket. But I am glad Rohit didn’t follow stereotypes and instead brought out the game that he knows best.”

Another decision which Gambhir was fond of was the management’s call to include R Ashwin and wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha in the Playing XI. Ashwin, playing his first Test since December last year, picked up a match-haul of 8 for 189, including 7/145 in the first innings and becoming the joint-fastest to 350 wickets. Saha replaced Rishabh Pant from the second Test in West Indies and took two catches in his first India match since January 2018.

“I was pleased for both Wriddhiman Saha and R Ashwin,” Gambhir said. “Both are making a comeback of sorts. Yes, the scoreboard shows 14 byes against Saha, but I thought he was very good with his wicket-keeping to spinners. He is a quiet man but I can tell you he has a lot of cricketing intellect about him.”

The second Test between India and South Africa takes place in Pune and the nature of the pitch has always become a hot topic. The last time a Test was played in Pune – India vs Australia in 2017 – it was deemed poor by the ICC. Spinner grabbed a total of 31 wickets as Australia beat India – India’s last Test defeat at home.

Gambhir reckoned Pune’s surface may not be too different to the one in Vizag.

“By the looks of it, Pune will be no different,” he said. “The red soil that prevails in western India may just afford a bit more bounce but I will be very surprised if South Africans can challenge the Indian team. Their batsmen showed some application, but it was only in patches. Like the Asian batsmen struggle to adjust to sharper, steeper bounce of South Africa or Australia, the South Africans too are at their wits end to comprehend the lower and sometimes uneven bounce.”