Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

India v South Africa: Rohit Sharma fails in first outing as red-ball opener

Limited-overs veteran aiming to revive Test career at the top of the order against South Africa

Rohit Sharma is likely to open the innings in Tests for India against South Africa. AFP
Rohit Sharma is likely to open the innings in Tests for India against South Africa. AFP

India batsman Rohit Sharma’s initial foray into opening in red-ball cricket started on a poor note as he was dismissed for a duck in the only warm-up game against the South Africans before the first Test next week.

Leading the Indian board president’s XI against the visitors in Vizianagaram, Rohit was caught behind for a two-ball duck by experienced seamer Vernon Philander on the third day of the practice game.

Rohit, 32, has been given yet another chance to revive his Test career, but this time at the top of the order following the suspension of young batsman Prithvi Shaw and KL Rahul’s loss of form.

While the white-ball veteran has a decent Test average of 39 from 27 matches, his outings have been few and far between. With hardly any space in India’s Test middle-order, opening the innings seemed the only way Rohit could get into the starting XI.

The Indian management will be hoping he manages to do what Virender Sehwag did during his playing days – take white-ball cricket form into the Test arena.

Rohit was the main batsman for India during the World Cup in England, smashing five centuries. But Test cricket against a quality pace attack comprising of Kagiso Rabada, Philander and Lungi Ngidi will be a different kettle of fish. And going by what happened in the warm-up game – where most of the top-order batsmen scored some runs – it’s not going to be easy for Rohit.

The three-day warm-up game, meanwhile, ended in a draw as the hosts scored 265-8. Rohit’s fellow opener Mayank Agarwal gave a good account of himself, scoring 39.

The first Test begins in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday with two more matches scheduled in Pune and Ranchi.

Updated: September 28, 2019 03:41 PM

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