Newly-appointed India batting coach Vikram Rathour feels Rohit Sharma is “too good a player” to not be playing in all three formats and backed him to do well as a Test opener in all conditions.
Rohit is one of the greats of white-ball cricket but has had a start-stop Test career. He has been given another opportunity in the five-day format, this time as an opener in the upcoming series against South Africa.
“He is too good a player to not be playing in any game. That is what is everyone is thinking. He has done so well in white-ball cricket as an opener so there is no reason why he can’t succeed as a Test opener provided he gets enough opportunities,” Rathour said ahead of the second T20 against South Africa on Monday adding that, “If he comes good, he will be a huge asset for the team.”
Rohit will be getting the opportunity to open in Tests at home but Rathour said the stylish batsman has it in him to succeed overseas also.
“At the moment, I am not too sure what the playing eleven for the first Test will be but if Rohit does well and is opening, why not,” he said when asked about the possibility of him opening on overseas tours.
The 32-year-old has scored more than 10,000 runs in limited-overs cricket but has managed to play only 27 Tests, averaging 39.62, much lower than his ODI average of 48.52.
‘Youngsters have been told difference between fearless and careless cricket’
The youngsters in the Indian team have got a clear message from the management – to understand that there is a fine line between “fearless cricket and careless cricket”, new batting coach Vikram Rathour said on Tuesday.
The message conveyed was directed mainly at the likes of youngsters like Rishabh Pant, who have been often been criticised for his reckless choice of shots.
“At times, we overemphasise on technique. It is more about the mindset at this level, getting your gameplan right. As far as Rishabh is concerned, he is a phenomenal player, he just needs to sort out his gameplan, needs to bring in a little bit of discipline in his cricket,” said Rathour on the eve the second T20 against South Africa.
“All the young players need to understand that there is a fine line between fearless cricket and careless cricket. What the team management is asking from them is fearless cricket, having clear gameplans and playing with intent but at the same time, you can’t be careless. I am sure they are smart enough to understand that.”
The former selector was reacting to comments from skipper Virat Kohli, who recently said that a youngster should not expect more than five opportunities at the highest level.
“They [Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri] have said five matches but it is not going to be a specific number. What they meant was that you need to grab your opportunities when you get them. They [youngsters] have played so much cricket. They have come through after doing so well. I don’t think it is a massive issue. The team will be backing them fully.”
Elaborating more on the expectations from Pant, Rathour said: “We want him to play all his shots. That is what makes him special, he is an impact player but at the same time you can’t be careless.”
Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey have made a comeback in the middle-order and Rahour is expecting them to seize their opportunities. But could they solve India’s middle-order muddle?
“Those two are very fine cricketers who have done really well in domestic cricket. Shreyas has got a good start [in ODIs against the West Indies]. Manish has done well in the past and made a comeback after performing consistently in domestic cricket. I am confident they will come good, they just need to be more consistent.
India have begun their preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year and there is a significant shift in the way they will approach their batting in the shortest format.
Kohli wants the team to bat deep, increasing the expectations from spin bowling all-rounders Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar.
“We are fortunate to have so many all-rounders in this T20 team. Most of them can bat. In the past, we did not take T20s seriously but now we are preparing for the World Cup. These 20-21 games are very important.
“By batting deep, we can go harder in the beginning and we will be trying different things in the coming series and see what works for us,” said the former India opener and selector.
On his new role with the national team, he added: “Extreme early days. I was laughing that my debut game was washed out at home [in Dharamsala]. This [Punjab] is also home.
“I have been part of the system as a national selector from 2012 to 2016. I have seen and worked with most of them. Of course, this a different job. Coaching is something I really enjoy. I till take me some time to get used to it.