#NewsBytesExplainer: Why Rohit Sharma is set to shine in Tests?
After scripting history Down Under, India are set to face England in the four-Test series at home, starting February 5. More than anything, the Indian contingent will be banking on openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, who impressed in Australia. Interestingly, India's most experienced batsman, Rohit, will play his first Test against England on home soil. We decode his journey in Test cricket.
A remarkable debut for young Rohit
As Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar was about to hang his boots, another Mumbaikar embellished his farewell Test series (2013). Incidentally, Rohit made his debut in Tendulkar's 199th Test. The former fired an emphatic 177 against West Indies in Kolkata, the second-highest score by an Indian on Test debut. He followed it up with an unbeaten 111 in Wankhede as India won the series 2-0.
Promotion worked, but Rohit was yet to fire in Tests
Rohit's international career bloomed in 2013 after former Indian skipper MS Dhoni promoted him in the batting order. As an opener, Rohit showed early signs of success in the Champions Trophy, a tournament that fueled his resurrection. Having justified his selection in white-ball cricket, he appeared to replicate his run in Tests too. However, his graph in Test cricket plunged after his first series.
How did Rohit fare until 2018?
Rohit, who continued to rule white-ball cricket, couldn't make his mark in Tests. From December 2013-2018, he scored 1,297 runs from 45 Test innings at an average of 33.25. During this period, he registered only one ton. In addition to it, he averaged only 26.32 away from home. Even now, there is a massive difference in his home (88.33) and away (27) average.
The tables turned for Rohit after playing as opener
In 2019, now-Indian captain Virat Kohli used a similar tactic and made Rohit open in Tests. Just like white-ball cricket, Rohit's Test career rose from the ashes. He racked up 556 runs from five Tests at an astronomical average of 92.66 in the calendar year. He also slammed two tons (176 and 127) and a historic double-ton (212) against South Africa at home.
Here are the feats he attained in 2019
After getting to bat at the top, Rohit became the first Indian opener to slam a ton in all three formats. He emerged as the first-ever player to score two tons in debut Test as an opener. Rohit also became only the fourth player to record scores of 200+ in both Tests and ODIs, after Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Chris Gayle.
A look at Rohit's numbers in Test cricket
As of now, Rohit has accumulated 2,270 runs from 34 Tests at an average of 45.40 in Test cricket. He owns 6 centuries and 11 fifties in the format so far. As mentioned, his highest score of 212 came against South Africa in 2019 (Ranchi).
Rohit looked impressive in Australia; will he fire against England?
After missing out on action for over a year, Rohit looked impressive in the final two Tests Down Under. He showed character with a brisk 52 in Sydney. However, he was found throwing away his wicket after getting set, as has been the case with him. Now, it will be interesting to see how he deals with James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer.
An opportunity to set his feet in Tests
"Better late than never!" The phrase perfectly sums up Rohit's international career. The man was all about his lazy elegance, which turned his fortunes six years after his international debut. We have often thrown tons of pointers about his tale of "two halves" in white-ball cricket. The upcoming series against England could well be the beginning of that "second half" in the ultimate format.