India vs South Africa 2019: Ian Chappell explains why Rohit Sharma can succeed as a Test opener
Australian cricket expert Ian Chappell has explained the reasons for Rohit Sharma’s success as an opener in red-ball cricket. The former Aussie batsman feels that opening the innings has allowed Rohit to play with a free mind. Moreover, Chappell believes that a promotion in the batting order is the best thing that could have happened to the Indian batsman.
In his column for Cricinfo, Chappell praised the decision to promote Rohit to the top of the order. Chappell added that Rohit plays with a free mind at the top and batting ahead of Virat Kohli helps him settle at the crease before the captain arrives.
“There appeared to be two things holding Rohit back at Test level: he seemed unsure about what type of player he should be, and at times he seemed overawed by Kohli’s glowing presence.”
“The advantage to Rohit opening is, it paints for him a clear picture of how he should play. He obviously needs to be watchful at first, but there’s also plenty of opportunity to score quickly with the field up. If he does get a start, it then means he’s more at ease when facing spinners with some runs under his belt.”
"As a one-day opener Rohit has established himself as the next most dangerous batsman to his team-mate Kohli. The move to opening means that he bats ahead of Kohli in Test matches, and this is crucial to revitalising his career in the longer format."
Rohit Sharma's performance in the Visakhapatnam Test match
After KL Rahul’s constant failures at the top of the order, the team management decided to utilise Rohit as an opener for the first Test against South Africa. The vice-captain of the Indian limited-overs team did not disappoint as he hit two centuries and looked in great touch.
In the first innings, Rohit amassed 176 runs while stitching a 317-run opening partnership with Mayank Agarwal. In the second innings, Rohit’s 127 helped India set a massive target of 395 runs for their opponents. He was even named the Player of the Match for his heroics.
Taking note of the two performances, Chappell wrote:
“This paid big dividends during his twin centuries in Vizag. He clouted an inordinate number of sixes in that Test. This is in sharp contrast to some Test innings I’ve seen him play down the order, where, early in his innings, he has committed hara-kiri in trying to establish his authority over the spinners.”
He concluded by stating that if this move works, it will not only help the Indian team but also Test cricket as Rohit will definitely entertain the fans.