Solving the Rohit Sharma problem
With South Africa winning the fourth ODI and making it 3-1, they have now opened the doors for every possible outcome. The tension seems to be now moving towards the visitor’s camp. Virat Kohli, who has a lot to think, will be worried a lot about Rohit Sharma in particular.
The current Indian vice-captain has been struggling with his form since the time he landed in South Africa. With 40 runs to his name in the ODI series at an average of 10, things don’t look good for him. With all the talks around him and his form, Rohit Sharma will be desperate to perform.
But the fact that Kagiso Rabada has got the better of him throughout the tour has made dark clouds loom over Rohit Sharma’s inclusion in the playing 11. With the series wide open to all possibilities, Rohit Sharma’s form remains a big concern for the Indian Skipper.
Ajinkya Rahane in place of Rohit Sharma
Ajinkya Rahane is known to enjoy batting more as an opener than as a middle order batsman. With KL Rahul not in the ranks, Virat Kohli can use Rahane as an opener. Rahane who has already batted at this position for both India and IPL franchises can be a rock-solid option.
Rahane, who replaced Shikhar Dhawan in the ODI series against Australia at home last year, did a commendable job by scoring 244 runs in 5 matches at an average of 48.80 which included four consecutive half-centuries.Not only in that series but also before that, in West Indies he finished with 336 runs from five ODIs, inclusive of a hundred and three-half centuries.
Also, knowing the fact that Rahane is a more technically sound batsman, he deserves a chance especially when the specialist opener is not in form. Rohit Sharma could instead be asked to come down later in the innings, something which he has done successfully for Mumbai Indians. He can also be replaced by a waiting Manish Pandey.
Virat Kohli for the opening slot
Be it in an indirect way, after having Rohit Sharma out of the game in the first five overs itself, Virat Kohli is forced to enter the match early. This thing won’t be new for Virat Kohli. The Indian captain who started his career as an opener against Sri Lanka can open the batting if he doesn’t want Rahane to open in order to keep an anchor in the middle order.
Virat Kohli, who opens for his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore, has been quite successful in this role. With Rohit Sharma not in form and Virat Kohli opening the batting, it will open the gates for someone like Dinesh Kartik or Manish Pandey, who can strengthen the middle order thus adding more firepower to it in the presence of MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya.
With South Africa’s victory in the fourth ODI, the stage is set for a comeback from the Proteas. The pressure is on the Indian camp. Rohit Sharma's form has been a worry for the Indian team throughout this tour and needs to be addressed soon enough if India are to win a bilateral ODI series in South Africa for the first time in 25 years.