South Africa vs India 2018: Rohit Sharma will always struggle in South Africa, proclaims Kepler Wessels
What's the story?
Former Proteas captain Kepler Wessels has attributed Rohit Sharma's struggles in the tour thus far to his fault-ridden batting technique. Insisting that the right-hander's footwork does not equip him to deal with seam coupled with bounce, the 60-year old pointed to the Indian opener's woeful record on South African soil and asserted that he will continue to struggle there.
In an interview with TOI, Wessels opined, "He will always struggle to score runs in South Africa because of his footwork. He plants his front foot across to the off-side and in South Africa, the pitches always seam and bounce a bit. This is the reason that he averages around 10 there."
"He'll always struggle there (in South Africa) because of his technique. It doesn't affect him in India and even in Australia, because the ball doesn't seam there, it just bounces, but when you have seam and bounce, with that technique, he's got a problem."
Among those who have batted in the top seven spots, Rohit Sharma's average of 11.45 on South African soil is the worst by any specialist batsman in ODIs. From 12 matches in the country, he has managed to muster just 126 runs.
The heart of the matter
After tallying just 78 runs across four innings in the first two Tests, Rohit was dropped from the Test team for the final match in Johannesburg. When the action shifted to the 50-over format, a lot was expected from the opener who had been the second highest run-scorer in ODIs in 2017.
However, Rohit's inability to adapt to South African conditions has continued to haunt him in the six-match ODI series too. From the four matches thus far, he has scored only 40 runs. Of those, 32 runs came in boundaries. In particular, the right-hander has struggled badly against the hostility of Kagiso Rabada. The 22-year old pacer dismissed him on three of those four matches, including for a duck at Cape Town.
Despite suffering a defeat in the fourth ODI at the Wanderers Stadium, India still hold the aces in the six-match series. Armed with an unassailable lead of 3-1, the 'Men in Blue' will be hoping to clinch their maiden ODI series on South African soil when the fifth game gets underway at the St George's Park in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Wessels' assessment is backed up by statistics as well as his profound knowledge on the intricacies of batting. With his front foot oriented technique attracting immense scrutiny in the tour thus far, the onus is on Rohit to adapt quickly and make a meaningful contribution to India's cause in the remaining two ODIs.