The second test match between Sri Lanka and India was as clouded by the emotional headiness of Kumar Sangakkara’s retirement as it was about India triumphant, levelling the series.
Commendable though the Indians’ effort was, there still remain certain aspects that continue to be a cause of worry for the visitors, despite all their attempts to keep such issues muted. One such distressing factor is Rohit Sharma. Rather, it is the continuous debate regarding his selection in the test squad.
“Fickle” is a good way to describe the 28-year old’s test career. It has swung upwards at one moment, only to come hurtling back down with a spate of frustration inducing performances.
It’s true, every player goes through a bad patch and the player himself isn’t to be blamed for his poor run of form. While the same can be said about Sharma, it’s also unavoidable to note that for a player who has long been vaunted as the future of Indian cricket, these inconsistencies make him out to be a contradiction.
Thus, though he continues to remain in focus, the specific of the focus on him has long shifted from his being a necessary addition to the squad to being a component preferred somewhat sceptically.
As the scenario of the current squad stands, despite the team losing both its openers to injury, the substitution has been well up to the mark. However, there is chaos brewing subtly in the remainder of the batting line-up.
At the start of the series, India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar had declared to all and sundry, how well Rohit Sharma fit in the no. 3 position. But now this proclamation rings hollow, not only with Sharma’s failure to consolidate his place in the position, but also because of the ease with which Ajinkya Rahane was able to take his place when promoted up the order in the second test.
Though Rahane needed the brace of the second innings, compared to him Sharma’s scores still read like a cameo. Granted, the rearrangement of the batting line-up in Colombo bore better returns for him. But the aftermath of his good showing has also raised the question, where in the team does Rohit Sharma actually belong?
The third test to be held in the Sinhalese Sports Complex is a litmus test that Sharma will need to pass. With Cheteshwar Pujara finally getting a call-back – in a somewhat providential fashion – for the third test, there’s an increased intensifying of competition for those wanting to claim, and retain, their respective place in the national test team.
Sharma is keen on pushing himself to maintain his place in the longest format of the game, but his game hasn’t really been anywhere near outstanding. However, what stands out in his favour is that he’s always rebounded emphatically, at just the right moment, to negate the cynicism surrounding his candidature. And it’s a feat that Rohit Sharma will have to replicate one more time, this time in Sri Lanka.