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Rohit must take leaf out of Dhawan’s book

Dhawan has repaid the selectors’ faith with runs by the bucketful while Rohit has shown no signs of changing his profligate ways

Rohit must take leaf out of Dhawan’s book
 - Cricket News
Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan (R) celebrates with teammate Rohit Sharma during the first ODI.
Shikhar Dhawan is one good performance away from being named the Player of the Tournament in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. Rohit Sharma, who has accompanied Dhawan out to the middle in the each of the four matches in this tournament, is one negligent performance away from earning the wrath of captain and coach.  

The beauty about opening partnerships, especially ones that have developed naturally over the years between players who complement each other well, is that one person’s success can so easily paper over the failures of the other. For a period of time, at least.  

In Rohit’s case, though, it is not that he is failing altogether as opening stands of 127, 101, 58 and 77 testify. However, in each of these instances, where Dhawan has weathered the initial movement and then cashed in when conditions allowed it, Rohit has done all the hard work only to throw it all away. In Rohit’s defence, he’s just starting out in this role. But, equally, there’s nothing new about his tendency to gift his wicket away.  

In 87 ODI innings over 92 matches, Rohit has been dismissed 36 times for less than ten runs. On 31 further occasions, he has got a start and thrown it away before getting to a half-century, while he has managed to convert the starts into really big scores (75 or more) only 7% of the time.  

There’s something about the manner in which Rohit bats that is naturally attractive. He appears to have more time to play his shots than most others, and even when he hits the ball a hundred yards, his strokes appear graceful rather than brutal. From a very young age, Rohit was earmarked a special talent, and his potential to do well seemed limitless.  

However, as is so often the case, a man’s greatest strength can also be his biggest weakness, and this appears to be the case with Rohit. Simply because he has the ability to play a dazzling array of shots, he tries to do more than the situation demands. He’s so confident in his own talent that he attempts audacious shots to perfectly good balls and perishes in the process.  

It’s been suggested that he has so many stroke-making options for each ball that he isn’t fully committed to any one and gets himself out in the process. Sunil Gavaskar, who was the exact opposite of Rohit when he played, in that he put a dear price on his wicket and certainly did his utmost to carry on once set, had a suggestion for Rohit. Since acceleration was never going to be an issue for someone of Rohit’s skills, why not deny himself freedom at the start, and get the first 20 runs in ones and twos? It’s almost counter-intuitive to the modern outlook of limited-overs opening batting, where the hard ball and ten Power Play overs beg to be exploited. But, in Rohit’s case, this is an approach well worth exploring, especially when his partner is doing so well.  

Dhawan, who admitted not so long ago that there was a period following his two-ball duck on debut in which he wondered if he would ever get the chance to play for India again, and show what he was actually capable of. In Test cricket, Dhawan certainly showed that the long wait had whetted his appetite for the feast, crashing a racy 187 in perhaps the most eye-catching debut by an Indian batsman ever. The new and improved Dhawan, who had married commonsense and composure to his original method of aggression and domination, has ODI scores of 114, 102*, 48 and 68 since his comeback. In the early part of his career, Dhawan lacked the refinement and poise that Rohit was blessed with, but made up through brute strength and all-out attack. There were intermittent reminders of what Dhawan was capable of, but even his backers found it difficult to take the leap of faith needed to believe he could replace the likes of Virender Sehwag or Gautam Gambhir. Fortunately for Dhawan, the current selection panel, led by Sandeep Patil, had no such problems, and their faith is now being repaid with runs by the bucketful.  

It’s high time Rohit also realised that the enormous goodwill and support he has enjoyed should not be taken for granted and that the time for talk of potential is long gone. A young man of his ability must deliver, lest the long rope extended to him be severed permanently.

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