Rohit Sharma has been the biggest talking point of India’s current series against South Africa with the 30-year-old batsman first failing to justify the team management’s decision of picking him ahead of vice captain Ajinkya Rahane in the first two Test matches and then going chealpy in all four one-day internationals.
But this is not the first time that Sharma has struggled in South Africa. The 30-year-old, who has three double centuries to his name in One Day Internationals, has managed just 126 runs in his 12 matches in the country with a highest score of 23. In the Tests, the middle order batsman has fared no better, scoring just 123 runs in four Tests at an average of 15.37 runs.
And former South African skipper Kepler Wessels insists that Sharma does not have the technique to succeed in seaming conditions.
“He will always struggle to score runs in SA because of his footwork. He plants his front foot across to the off-side and in SA, the pitches always seam and bounce a bit. This is the reason that he averages around 10 there,” Wessels told The Times of India in an interview.
“He’ll always struggle there because of his technique. It doesn’t affect him in India and even in Australia, because the ball doesn’t seam there, it just bounces, but when you have seam and bounce, with that technique, he’s got a problem,” he added.
The 60-year-old, who played for both Australia and South Africa, felt Shikhar Dhawan was a better player in those conditions despite his troubles against the short ball. “He looks very impressive in one-day cricket. He’s superb there. In the Tests, he’s still vulnerable to the short ball, but the overall package is very good,” he added.
Wessels was also impressed with the over all strength of India’s ODI squad and said the addition of the two wrist spinners has been the main reason behind the turn-around in the one-day series following the loss in Tests.
“I think that they’ve got a totally different team, a totally different arsenal. They have introduced the two legspinners which has totally confused the SA set-up. I think that India’s One-Day team at the moment is very good. Their Test team is good too. I mean they are ranked No. 1 in the Tests, but I think that this ODI team, with the combination and variety that they have is excellent,” he added.
The left-handed opener, however, wasn’t that confident about South Africa’s overall squad strength and said the team needs to get more variety in the bowling department and find ways to keep their key players fit and in form.
Read the full interview here.