There are few better sights in the game than watching Rohit Sharma in his element. He may be among the finest timers of the ball but the elegant right-handed batter went through a nighmarish IPL season this year. Rohit endured his worst season, failing to score a single half-century for the first time since his debut in the inaugural edition in 2008. He managed to score just 248 runs at an average of 19.14 and a strike rate of 120.17 in 14 outings. (‘Pakistan don’t even have 30 percent of facilities available to England club cricketers’: Star pacer on his County stint)
Under Rohit, five-time IPL winners capped off a disappointing tournament in which they finished last in the points table. A lot of things didn’t go his way but Rohit is all set to lead India in his first overseas assignment. India and England are set to lock horns in the rescheduled fifth and final Test in Birmingham on July 1.
Rohit, who was rested for the T20I series against South Africa at home, looks to start afresh and get runs under his belt. In the first four Test matches in England, he had amassed 368 runs in 4 Tests, including a hundred and two fifties – a testament to his batting prowess irrespective of conditions. But his recent batting numbers speak otherwise.
Former India skipper Kapil Dev has also questioned Rohit’s lean patch, saying he should have been a part of the home assignment against South Africa. “It’s hard to know today who has been rested or asked to be rested. Only selectors will know about this,” Kapil said on UnCut.
“The player (Rohit) is brilliant, no question about that. But if you don’t score a fifty in 14 matches, questions will be raised, be it Gary Sobers, Don Bradman, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar or Viv Richards. Only Rohit can answer that what’s happening. Is it too much (cricket) or has he stopped enjoying it?”
“Players like Rohit and Virat (Kohli) should enjoy the game. How they feel is very important (for their performances).”
Kapil also spoke about the mindset of both players and predicted it will be ‘impossible’ for critics to remain quiet if the Indian pair continues its mediocre form. Like Rohit, Virat Kohli also witnessed a subdued IPL season where he recorded three golden ducks. He averaged 22.73 across the tournament, his lowest since the 2010 season.
Kohli’s batting slump even led to former players including Brett Lee and Ravi Shastri feel that the star cricketer should take a break to “freshen up the mind”.
“You have to score runs (to get back in form). You cannot go too far based on reputation alone. Eventually, the opportunities will get dried up. How many chances would you need after 14 games? Can’t understand why they’re rested. If dropped, where they will get a chance to play then? It’s quite difficult to see how they play now,” Kapil further said.
“What I feel is that these players need to correct their thinking. I would be happy if they prove me wrong. If you aren’t scoring runs, then there’s a problem somewhere. Either there’s too much cricket or too less. We only see one thing – how you perform. If performance has dropped, then hard to stop people from talking. It’s not possible. Your performance and bat should speak. Rest doesn’t matter.
“He (Kohli) is like a hero to us. We used to think if there would come a player who we can compare to Rahul Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar, and Sachin Tendulkar. We never thought like that. Then he (Kohli) emerged onto the scene. Now, the comparison is gone (for the past two years). He will have to address his cricket mentally,” he added.