Rohit Sharma’s Rocky Journey to Test Captaincy

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Modified Feb 23, 2022 5:52 PM IST

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Over a decade ago Rohit Sharma’s domestic numbers in white-ball and red-ball Cricket were in focus. He was failing as a middle-order batter in white-ball internationals, and with a first-class average over 50, his non-selection in Test Cricket made it seem like Rohit Sharma was playing the wrong format. After a string of discussions, and the promotion of Rohit Sharma as an opener, Sharma became one of the best white-ball Cricketers ever.

Rohit Sharma makes 177 on debut to steal Sachin Tendulkar’s thunder in the masters final series.

He is easily the most gifted and talented batter in the Indian team, is pleasing to the eye and can make jaws drop with his elegance. His patience and laziness though have gotten the better of him in the past, which is why he has only played 43 Tests despite starting his international career in 2007. After putting up strong numbers in domestic Cricket, Rohit Sharma got his chance in Test Cricket after showing form as an opener in the one-day side. He was used as India’s number six, a position which India could not find a player for. In his first Test series, Sharma showed why he should have made his Test debut earlier.

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He made two centuries in his first two Tests against West Indies. However, an age old question came back to Rohit Sharma. Would he be able to succeed overseas? For all his limited-overs success up until that point, Rohit Sharma wasn’t the best outside Asia, and the question extended to Test Cricket. He went with the team to South Africa in a bid to prove that he can play overseas, but struggled and that lead to him being in and out of the team.

He made low scores in South Africa, New Zealand and was subsequently dropped after a Test in England. He made it to the team for the Australia tour, and his ability to play the short ball well was the reason behind his selection. Again, Rohit Sharma got a fair amount of chances, but couldn’t make use of his gifted talent. Injury and Test form left him out for most of the home season in 2016-2017 and just as things were getting tough Rohit Sharma got a century after 19 Tests.

The century helped him find a spot on the South Africa tour but low scores after two Tests saw him dropped again. He didn’t make the squad for the England tour as the selectors didn’t find his technique on seaming pitches promising enough. He was later selected for the Australia tour though as the selectors liked his technique against the short ball. He didn’t do too well again, and was facing the end of his Test career. It was during this gap that Rohit Sharma himself stated he wasn’t too worried about his Test career, and was just looking to enjoy his cricket.

What followed though transformed his career just as a crucial moment in 2013 transformed his white-ball career. Rohit Sharma took the opening slot in the home series against South Africa and was immediately a hit. He made three centuries in the series, and replicated his ability to make mammoth hundreds in white-ball Cricket. The question still came up though regarding Rohit Sharma’s ability on seaming tracks. Due to injury, he was unable to prove his doubters wrong in New Zealand. He did find himself on the tour to Australia later in the year, and was opening against the likes of Starc and Cummins.

As shown before, Rohit looked very comfortable against pace, and it seemed like he had all the time in the world despite the pace of Australia’s bowlers. The mindset around Rohit Sharma changed, and it was in Australia where he was given a leadership role. With Virat Kohli absent, Sharma was appointed Rahane’s vice-captain.

He did a decent job in Australia, building strong platforms, and was India’s best batter when England faced them at home. On tracks that spun wildly and was impossible to play on for most of the players, Rohit Sharma was again at ease. He made a 161 in Chennai, and that innings is likely to go down as one of his best given India were trailing in the series, lost wickets and were batting on a track turning square on day one.

While the home series went well, Sharma’s original test started after the series. India were due to tour England for the WTC Finals and five Tests against England. Facing New Zealand, Rohit Sharma started well and looked comfortable against swing, but gave his wicket away to an age-old issue. After looking brilliant and giving a platform, Sharma’s laziness led to his wicket after some solid 30s.

He had a chance at redemption in England, and it was on this tour that he sealed his name as a probable Indian captain. He first made impact with an 83 at Lords, helping India win. His next impact was in the fourth Test. Trailing by nearly 100 runs, Rohit Sharma countered the likes of Anderson and Robinson nicely to make his first overseas century, a landmark that eluded him for a long time in Test Cricket. He made a high quality 127, and the knock was crucial as it took India to defendable score, allowing them to win and take a 2-1 lead in the series.

The knock also helped Rohit Sharma erase any doubts as he looked like India’s best batter in conditions that were meant to be his weakness. After fifteen long years, Sharma finally lived up to his talent and potential, and has now received what is a dream to many, Test Captaincy. His elevation to India’s leader in all formats is a massive landmark. 12 years after missing out on a Test debut due to injury in Nagpur, and four years after being dropped, Sharma is now the Indian Test captain, and his era is set to begin.