Why Rohit Sharma shouldn't have missed the fourth Test
Rohit Sharma, the prolific right-hand batsman from Mumbai, will miss the fourth Test in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia. The visitors are 2-1 up in the series and have retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
However, they are still far away from winning the series down-under in what could be the first ever series win in Australia for India or any Asian side. Rohit Sharma was part of both of India’s wins this series and also played a crucial knock in the second innings of the Boxing Day Test. Team India and Virat Kohli have found the 7-4 combination working for them this series as the combination has partially addressed India’s batting woes abroad.
Hanuma Vihari, who missed the first game, played at his regular place number 6 when Rohit Sharma missed out the second game at Perth due to a jarred back. Poor form from openers led to the sacking of both KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, and the Indian Captain Virat Kohli played a masterstroke by bringing a new opening pair in Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari, the two stars from India A circuit who have blossomed under the legendary Rahul Dravid.
The two openers didn’t disappoint, and it would be ideal to have the same opening pair for the Pink Test at Sydney in what is going to be the most crucial game of the series if India have to win the series down-under.
However, with Rohit Sharma missing the fourth Test of the series owing to the birth of his daughter, India are left with no option than to change the winning combination. There is no like to like replacement available for Rohit Sharma in the squad. The squad boasts bowling all-rounder Ashwin, Baroda all-rounder Hardik Pandya, wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel and the discarded openers in KL Rahul and Murali Vijay.
Having Ravichandran Ashwin back in the squad can be a considerate option with the SCG traditionally sporting a dry pitch over the years and India could be well off having both Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin.
So, it makes no sense to have someone like Hardik Pandya as India don’t need a fourth seamer on a dry pitch at SCG. Though the bowling becomes formidable with the inclusion of Ashwin, it will fail to address the main problem India had in overseas, the batting. Moving away from the 7-4 combination might come to haunt India.
So that leaves us with one option to maintain this winning combination. Bring in one of the openers in Rahul or Vijay and push back Vihari to his originally allotted number 6. But, It would be unfair on Vihari to shift his positions every game according to the team’s needs as it takes a lot mentally to adjust to a new place.
Vihari could have been more comfortable at the opening with his mind on it after the Boxing Day Test. Pushing him back will undoubtedly unsettle him (with the game in Sydney starting just 3 days after the boxing day Test), and it will take him some time to be mentally ready to play at six again.
Though it's an individual choice to make between personal and professional commitments, it would have been better if Rohit Sharma had skipped ODI series instead as we have a settled opening combination in blue colours and the team could have tried with other players.
All in all, Rohit Sharma leaving the team at crucial juncture has hampered the team combination, and Indian management will have to make a tough choice on the team selection in what is the most critical match of the series. A win or a draw would mean Kohli’s men will be in the history books.