Rohit Sharma needs to “maintain his individuality” as a Test opener and his success in the longest format can help India successfully chase down big targets, said former assistant coach Sanjay Bangar. A revered opening batsman in limited over cricket, Rohit was included in the 15-member squad for the three-Test series against South Africa at home beginning on October 2.
He was also in the squad for the West Indies Tests but didn’t find a place in the playing XI. Rohit, who has scored three ODI double hundreds and four T20I hundreds, was picked as an opener ahead of an out-of-form KL Rahul, who was dropped after a poor show in the West Indies.
“If he succeeds, his style of play will be extremely helpful to the team. It might result in being able to successfully chase down targets that we haven’t achieved in the past, like in Cape Town and Edgbaston,” Bangar told ESPNCricinfo in an interview.
In 27 Tests, Rohit has scored 1585 runs at an average of 39.62 with three hundreds and 10 fifties but he is yet to cement a permanent place in the side. The 32-year-old was seen as a middle-order batsman in Tests but with Hanuma Vihari sealing the number 6 spot with some superlative performance in the Caribbeans, doors have opened up for Rohit to seal the opening slot in Test.
Bangar said: “The key to his success will be if he maintains his individual style of play. He has to maintain his individuality. “At the moment, there is no place in the settled middle order in the Test team. Opening will be a new challenge for him, since he has rarely done it in the longer formats.
“But the advantage is that he will get to bat against a hard ball with plenty of gaps in the field. He will also not have to wait for his turn to bat, which will save his mental energy.”
Bangar’s five-year tenure with the Indian team came to an end last month when he was replaced by Vikram Rathour as India’s new batting coach.