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Champions Trophy 2017: Mohammad Azharuddin feels Rohit Sharma will find it tough to open in England

The former Indian captain backed team India to defend their title.

Azharuddin feels the openers will have to play a key role

What’s the story?

Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin thinks that it will be very tough for Rohit Sharma to get used to opening again for India at the upcoming Champions Trophy. He also revealed that he was surprised to see the Mumbai Indians captain batting in the middle order in the IPL.

As reported by DNA, Azharuddin said, “When you are an opening batsman, you should open. I always feel that the best players should play the first 20 overs. If your best batsmen are playing after 8-10 overs in T20s and after 30 overs in a 50-overs game, there's no use. Rohit Sharma is a good player, and I was very surprised to see him bat at No. 3 or 4 or 5 (for MI). 

“He has to get used to the spot quickly. It's going to be tough for him to straightaway go and open because the conditions are different and he is coming back from an injury. All these things will play on his mind.”

Azharuddin also spoke about India’s chances in the tournament. “I will be very disappointed if they don't win the tournament. They've got the ammunition. We've got the best batting, the best fast bowlers, and we've also got the best spinners,” he said.

The context

Although his team has fared well, Rohit Sharma has scored just 282 runs at an average of 25.63 with three half-centuries. The 30-year-old batsman has been batting at No.3 or 4 but has not been able to make an impact on a consistent basis. He has been picked in the squad for the Champions Trophy as an opener that begins next month.

The heart of the matter

The conditions in England are very different from those in the subcontinent. As an opener, Rohit will have to deal with the swing and movement early in the innings and that could be a difficult task. Azharuddin mentioned that he is indeed a good player but what he lacks is consistency.

The former Indian attacking batsman reckoned that the openers will have a crucial role to play and give a good start. It is imperative for both Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan to be at the top of their game if India are to win the coveted trophy.

Azharuddin also backed Virat Kohli and said that he should shun the disappointment of failure in the IPL and go into the tournament with a positive mindset.

What’s next?

The Champions Trophy, which features the eight top ODI teams of the world, will kickstart on 1 June 2017. The Indians begin their campaign with a match against arch-rivals Pakistan on 4th June.

Authors’ take

India do have a very strong team that is very much capable of defending the title. In Bhuvneswar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami they have a formidable pace bowling attack. However, much of their success will depend on the batsmen and how they are able to acclimatise to the swinging conditions in England.

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