Sri Lanka v India, 3rd ODI, Colombo July 26, 2012

Dhoni's dilemma: Rohit or Tiwary?

Manoj Tiwary may just have caught up with Rohit Sharma after staying on his heels for sometime

Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary stood at opposite ends in the same net during the practice session. One would bat for three-four deliveries against the fast bowlers, then the two would jog across and the other one would face the next few balls. There was not much to choose between the two. Tiwary walked down the pitch and lofted one over extra cover. Rohit hit the glass panels of the dressing room with a meaty hook. Of course, there was no guessing which of the two looked more elegant. There is also no guessing whom the team management prefers more.

Rohit averages 17.33 in ten ODIs this year. Tiwary hasn't got a game since December 2011 despite being a part of the squad. Will he finally get one soon? MS Dhoni did not reveal much. "That's a difficult choice that as a captain you have to make," Dhoni said after the second ODI. "You always back youngsters but what is important is that in the process you are not coming in the way of somebody else who is sitting on the bench. It is something that we need to decide, make a conscious attempt to [be] honest to yourself and not commit any harm to any other player."

Rohit and Tiwary made their ODI debuts within eight months of each other. Rohit has played 82 games, Tiwary just six. And we still talk about the potential of both men, revealingly in the former's case and correctly in the latter's. No one can deny that Rohit has had several chances to display his potential, and has also shown us some glimpses of what he can do. Tiwary's six games have been spread over five series. No one can deny that Tiwary hasn't had enough opportunities to show us what he can do.

Tiwary made a match-winning hundred in his last ODI, against West Indies in December 2011. He has since travelled to Australia for the CB Series and to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup, and wasn't considered worth a single game for a side that did not make the finals of either tournament.

Rohit, Man of the Series twice against West Indies last year, got an extended run, deservedly, in Australia and Bangladesh. Again, in Sri Lanka, Rohit has been preferred over Tiwary for the first two games. These are his ODI scores so far in 2012 - 21, 10, 33, 15, 0, 4, 68, 5, 0.

In his defence, he has come in very late in some of those games but he has also thrown it away at times. Short and wide deliveries have been cut to point; they have also been slashed to the wicketkeeper. In the first game of the ongoing series in Hambantota, Rohit walked in to bat at 180 for 2 in the 32nd over, lasting eight balls before he was bowled, caught on the crease to one that nipped in. In the second game, there was a bigger opportunity - to rebuild the innings from 33 for 2 - but he chopped one on to his stumps for a duck.

Rohit gives the impression of being at ease and of having time to play his strokes. It is, therefore, annoying he is nowhere near as consistent as the likes of Virat Kohli. The same languid style that is pleasing to the eye appears casual when he gets out. It is understandable why the team management has invested in Rohit, but after a point, even the most talented are to be judged by the scoreboard.

In Australia, Dhoni had indicated giving Rohit as many games as possible, even at the expense of leaving out Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir or Virender Sehwag from the playing eleven. Backing youth comes at a cost, but the price seemed justified in Australia since the three senior top-order batsmen didn't need to play in every game.

But does it seem acceptable now? Is Rohit the young batsman blocking the path of Tiwary the young batsman? That is what the captain and the team management have to decide. Dhoni would only say that he believed in giving players a decent run.

"What I personally believe in is to give a batsman or a bowler a few games before we change him because it gives him an opportunity to prove himself. In the same way, if he is not performing and then the new guy comes in, then you give him a stretch of games so that he is confident that he won't be shuffled in every match. I feel that's a good way to go ahead because it gives you a cushion of the next three or four games [that assures] you are the person who would be playing."

So does that mean Rohit will get another game? Does that mean Tiwary will finally get off the bench? We will have to wait till the third game on Saturday for the answer.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 29, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    Rohit is a great batsmen with a lot of tallent Gambhir said Rohit was good in the nets against the slower Indian bowlers. He has not played many matches against SL. Tiwary is the same story but he has not played as many matches as Rohit and I think he needs a chance.

  • kauntay on July 28, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    As far as the talent & class are concerned...Manoj & Rohit both are up to the mark...if you see the first class and List-A averages of both......the only difference is dat rohit is more experinced at top level in ODIs...but if an experienced player is not in the form and at the same time a talented player is sitting on the bench for so long than he should get a simple as that.....

  • Selfiskar on July 28, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    Rohit be-Sharm-a proves that while class is permanent and form is temporary, he has neither.

  • Dummy4 on July 28, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    give rohit sharma 200 more matches to prove his caliber.if he cant, give 100 more.

  • Dummy4 on July 28, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    changes have to be made frequently so that most of the player will get a chance to play. when you choose 15 players i think all 15 players should be treated equally so that all 15 players will get a chance to play in a series. I don't like the idea of resting player for a long time , if a player is not playing well in consecutive 3 matches than we can rest him and give chance to other player, that way all of them will get a chance to play.

  • Dummy4 on July 28, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    sooo wot about Rahane...?

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2012, 17:21 GMT

    How about Rohit Tiwari? ;)

  • Jeremy on July 27, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    g.narsimha: I agree, the great Steve Waugh does have nightmares, along with most AUS cricket fans, about that Laxman/Dravid partnership and the subsequent 2-1 loss that eventuated - one of the all-time great Test series - every match was a classic. Unfortunately, you couldn't say there have been any equivalent series in AUS - IND have not won a series in AUS, managed a drawn series - but some of the defeats have been heavy (4-0, 5-0 in early 2000's, etc). However, IND 1-day side DID win their 2nd World Cup, and kudos to them. But, the next World Cup is in AUS/NZ, so you'd best start the preparations now - because if recent pitches are any indication, and I hope they are - we'll see some bowler-friendly ODI's for a change. Kohli can score runs anywhere, you just need the rest of your lads to follow his example. Trust in & develop your bowling stocks.

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    Ro-hit is No-hit, so please change it with Tiwary and then no worry. Many chances are already lost by young lad,now change is needed for sure. India cant keep on investing on a product which click after a long wait.

  • R on July 27, 2012, 13:29 GMT


  • No featured comments at the moment.