West Indies v India, 3rd ODI, Antigua

Rohit shows willingness to change

Sriram Veera in Antigua

June 12, 2011

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Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 86 helped India seal the series, West Indies v India, 3rd ODI, Antigua, June 11, 2011
Rohit Sharma's little 'big moment': his matchwinning knock in Antigua could well herald the start of a much-needed turnaround © Associated Press
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"He is a lot more disciplined now," was what Suresh Raina had to say after Rohit Sharma played one of the most mature knocks of his international career to help India win the third one-dayer against West Indies in Antigua. It wasn't the pitch, or the attack that Rohit conquered today - there wasn't much venom in either. Instead it was an on-going inner battle with himself that he finally won. For some time now the battle has been: Rohit v Rohit. He has always given the impression of man who gets bored easily. He will lace a couple of pretty drives, play a big shot, make it all look easy before suddenly and, inexplicably, throw his wicket away. Perhaps the game came too easily for him.

He usually starts his innings a touch edgily but he flowed from the start on Saturday. The intent was still the same; he usually goes for couple of big hits early in his knock and he did so again. In the past, those attempts have threatened to derail him. Even in the second ODI, there was an expansive heave against Devendra Bishoo when he was yet to get off the mark and the ball just about cleared mid-off. On Saturday, he hit a six and a four against Sammy early on but in a more controlled arc, in the V.

The thing that stood out, though, was how well he controlled the chase. We have seen it from him in the IPL where he has earned his name as a finisher. He has rarely displayed that skill at the international stage but he did it in Saturday's game. India coach Duncan Fletcher was lavish in his praise. "It was a tremendous innings," Fletcher said. "I thought it was a great innings. It's not easy to finish like that. It shows the quality of this team that a player like him is not in [the] Test [squad]. He can probably make most Test sides but there is such quality in Test side now- there are such great players in there …"

Rohit seems to be in a hurry to erase the blots in his CV. He is a lot fitter now and by his own admission, a lot hungrier for success. He had played over 60 one-dayers for India with little to show. At the start of the tour he said that he was a changed man, desperate do well and represent India for long. He has done most things right in the series so far.

However it is a touch early to say that Rohit has turned the corner and has finally arrived. He has definitely taken the first step but more proof of that will come on tougher pitches and against tougher attacks. It wasn't all that long ago when he struggled against the bounce and movement that Morne Morkel extracted in the ODI series in South Africa early this year.

And there were a few technical problems that ailed him even before that. He would often drive without quite leaning forward fully and the short cover was almost omnipresent in most opposition plans. He worked on this shortcoming in the nets by using a shorter bat which forced him to lean forward as otherwise you couldn't connect with the ball. However, in the recent times, he started to develop an initial forward-and-across movement with his front leg which helped him to lean into the drive but threw up other complications: if the delivery cut in at pace, he often found himself having to play around the front pad and became an lbw candidate. If the ball, as Morkel repeatedly did, bounced from short of length and held its line outside off, Rohit would get a touch squared-up and stab out at it.

These are technical kinks but the most important criticism leveled against him was about his mindset. Rohit has shown the willingness to change and the third ODI was further proof of that. He has fans in the opposition camp as well. "He is a wonderful player," Ramnaresh Sarwan had said earlier in the series. "He has a way of sneaking up on you. He seems to be flow quietly and suddenly you realise he has reached 40."

Even as the ball that brought up the winning runs sped towards the midwicket boundary, Rohit turned to collect a stump for a souvenir. This knock could well be the one that he will look back later in his career as a little "big moment".

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Rajamohan777 on (June 14, 2011, 7:29 GMT)

In a tour where most of our senior batsmen have opted to rest or heal, the most consistent batsman with peak potential and red hot at the moment Rohit Sharma should find a place in the test team. The Indian board should ask Rohit to continue after the one day tour because the best time to give confidence to highly potential players is when they are in peak form and in the right mindset. Rohit definitely deserves a chance in such prime form and responsible mindset. The present day Test cricket requires fundamental strength and positive mindset and we would make a terrible mistake if we were to ask Rohit to go back after the one dayers. 2 of the 3 (Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina) should play alongside Dravid and VVS in the middle order. Hope the selectors have the guts to make Rohit stay back and continue to build a career which could be so important for India in the longer term.

Posted by   on (June 13, 2011, 13:16 GMT)

India always used to havea wristy and elegant batsman - people like Vishwanath, Azhar, Laxman - people who took your breath away with their style. Rohit Sharma follows in that tradition. It would be a travesty if he were not make the Indian test team - for you would be left with people like Gambhir, Kohli, etc who are indeed effective but take away the charm from test cricket. If you are going to watch a day of test cricket in India, its the beauty and talen that people like Laxman and Rohit display that can rivet you. ofcourse unless Rohit gets more disciplined and maintains concentration to play the long game, he can't think of filling Laxman's oversized shoes.

Posted by Hells_XI on (June 13, 2011, 6:46 GMT)

@JimBond - Instead of a new batsmen we can have murali vijay or abhinav mukund in that spot.

Posted by indiacricfan on (June 13, 2011, 6:13 GMT)

Rohit is a great talent and he has learnt it the hard way by missing out on a world cup squad. we all hope and pray that we are not seeing another Carl Hooper or L shivaramakrishnan who always seemed to have the talent to be a Shane Warne or Viv Richards, but somehow seemed to lose it when it mattered most. Its time for a slow transition since "the wall" and the "master blaster" are not growing any younger. If Rohit can keep his feet on the ground, he definitely is one of the closest contenders to replace them. God has gifted him with the talent, but the attitude and the hunger for runs is something that he has to develop himself.

Posted by jimbond on (June 13, 2011, 3:17 GMT)

YEs, a bit unfortunate that someone like Rohit Sharma who has often been written off as unsuitable for tests, hasnt ever played even one Test Match. The time is just right to groom him for the tests- we may need him to be settled by the time the big three are on their way out. My pick for the top six in the next decade in tests- Gambhir, New Batsman(Rahane?), Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Pujara, Dhoni. I am assuming that Laxman will be around for an year or so, and Sehwag for 2-3 years.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2011, 21:32 GMT)

I've always said Rohit is the most talented young batsmen in India. Players like Kohli and Raina are probably more determined, that's all. Also, I wouldn't write off Badri that soon; he's a quality player. With Pujara, Rahane, and Mukund waiting in the wings, I have no concerns about India's batting future. We need some more exciting news in the bowling department - hopefully Ishant will bowl really well in the remaining 2 games.

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (June 12, 2011, 21:00 GMT)

One guy commented it was a joke when I said Badri was coiling back into his shell. If Badri is not going to attack he will be out of the Indian squad very soon. He wouldn't have a third chance.

Posted by Nampally on (June 12, 2011, 20:52 GMT)

Raina said of Rohit "he is lot more disciplined now". What happened to Raina's discipline playing such a rank bad shot of Pollard with team needing him to show responsibility& discipline as a Captain? Lack of responsibility in disciplined batting is the problem with several Indian batsmen. They have a lot of talent but end up playing too many T-20 shots in ODI & sometime in tests. This has kept both Raina & Rohit Sharma from making the Test grade. Yuvraj had the same problem which he overcame in the world cup ODI's. Kohli, Rohit and Raina are the future replacements for Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman with Yuvraj doing the same for Gangully successfully.While Kohli has accepted the challenge and showed some discipline, Rohit & Raina are still struggling. Both are good fielders & also useful off spin bowlers. But they need to show maturity to play responsibly.Indian bowling needs wicket takers like Mishra. Ashwin should get a chance to prove it in 4th ODI in place of Harbhaja's failures.

Posted by Flat_Track_bullies on (June 12, 2011, 18:47 GMT)

Funny the way Suresh said "I will speak to Fletcher" Suresh, if you're reading - this comes across kinda rude to Duncan, you obviously didnt intend. You either call people by name "I will speak to Duncan" or "I will speak to Mr Fletcher" if thats how you want to say". Cultural difference!

Posted by   on (June 12, 2011, 18:35 GMT)

Rohit has immense potential and that is an open secret. He is probably the best in technique along with Pujara among the youngsters. Happy to see him put down his head and play some good innings. Started to do justice to his talent. Go back to Ranji and score tons of runs. On the other hand hope Badri wont end up being a la Wasim Jaffer, scoring runs by the bucket in Ranji but just cant make the step up.

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