As India captain Virat Kohli addressed the media ahead of the second Test in Pune, there came an obvious question: “With Rohit Sharma in prime form, is India’s opening slot filled?”
Kohli smiled and replied: “It’s overflowing. It’s not being filled. Come on, give the guy a break now!”
The captain’s expression said it all; the team management — which had drawn flak after Rohit warmed the bench during the two Tests in the West Indies — has finally found an answer to its opening woes.
With Rohit making optimum use of the opportunity in the first Test in Visakhapatnam — becoming the first cricketer to hammer tons in each innings of his maiden Test as an opener — Kohli believes, it is time to let the Mumbaikar enjoy his game.
Feeling at home
“He’s done well, let him enjoy his batting at the top of the order. Let him just have fun like he does in white-ball cricket. Stop focusing on what Rohit is going to do,” Kohli said.
Rohit, who now has five centuries in 28 Tests, also scaled up in the ICC Test rankings and that comes as a recognition of his hard work. “He’s in great space. He’s playing really well. He looked relaxed in the first game which is great to see. All the experience that he has accumulated over the years came to the fore. He’s feeling absolutely at home at the top of the order,” Kohli said, making it clear that for the team, “it’s a huge bonus.”
Setting the tempo
Fondly referred to as ‘Hitman’ by his friends and colleagues, Rohit sweated it out at the nets on Wednesday, despite it being an optional training session.
And the Indian captain feels that with his aggressive style of play, Rohit sets the tempo of the game, which allows the bowlers ‘an extra hour or two’ to bowl the opposition out.
“Look, if a guy like him at the top of the order plays like the way he did in the last game then we are going to be in situations where we are going to go for victories in most of the Test matches. I think it is time to move on from talks about his spot at the top of the order,” Kohli said, referring to Rohit's second innings knock of 127, which set India on course for an outright win in Visakhapatnam.
The second Test gets underway at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium from October 10.
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