Rohit Sharma growing into his role as India's Test opener

Besides his aggressive mindset, his defensive technique against spin has also been a standout feature of his performances in the last two Tests against England.

Rohit Sharma has been in fine form with the bat.   -  Sportzpics

Despite making his India debut more than 13 years ago, Rohit Sharma is still not perceived as a reliable Test batsman. Thanks to the huge gap between his batting average at home (81.05) and overseas (27), he is loosely referred to as a flat-track bully in Test cricket.

In the last two months, however, the Mumbai maverick has evolved into a reliable opening batsman in challenging conditions. While he gave India a start in three of the four innings he played in Australia last month, February has seen Rohit consistently making a mockery of the England bowlers on spin-friendly tracks.

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His 161 in Chennai in the second Test and 66 in the first innings of the pink-ball Test here have been instrumental in India not only making a strong comeback in the ongoing series but also being on the cusp of qualifying for the World Test Championship final.

While a majority of batsmen from both the teams struggled to get their act together on excessively spin-friendly surfaces in the second and third Tests, Rohit appeared to be at his dominating best. Besides his aggressive mindset, his defensive technique against spin has also been a standout feature of his performances.

Rohit Sharma as Test opener
In 2019: Matches: 5, Innings: 6, Runs: 556, Average: 92.66, 50s/100s: 0/3, Best: 212
In 2021 Matches: 5, Innings: 10, Runs: 425, Average: 47.22, 50s/100s: 2/1, Best: 161

# Rohit’s tally of 425 runs is the highest by an India batsman in 2021, 11 more than Rishabh Pant’s 414 runs
# Rohit is among only three India batsmen to have averaged more than 40 this year. While Rohit averages 47,22, the other two are Rishabh Pant (59.14) and Washington Sundar (42.25)

At the start of the year, however, Rohit was in the news for all the wrong reasons. Having made a hasty return for the Indian Premier League playoffs, Rohit missed the limited overs’ leg and the first two Tests in Australia. Ever since landing in Australia, having undergone a rigorous rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and serving a hard quarantine for 14 nights Down Under, Rohit ensured he was back in shape in time for the New Year’s Test in Sydney.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma ahead of a training session.   -  SPORTZPICS/BCCI

 

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“I knew once I finished the quarantine, I had just five-six days to get ready for the Test. It wasn't the first time I would've had that much time to get ready for a game, so I knew what exactly had to be done. It's not easy but a lot of people helped me get there. It was a good journey with a lot of learning personally,” Rohit said ahead of the third Test.

The learnings have reflected on the ground in far more challenging conditions than he has faced earlier in whites at home. Thanks to his consistent outings - only two of his last 10 innings have been single-digit scores - Rohit has emerged as India’s highest run-getter at the start of the year. India will be hoping that his run of form continues not just in the last rubber of the series starting March 4 but also for the crucial assignments in whites later in the year.