One of the talking points for India before the Test series against South Africa was Rohit Sharma’s promotion to opening the batting. There were questions on his ability at the top of the order, but Rohit dismissed all of that with centuries in both innings in Visakhapatnam.
Anil Kumble said Rohit has the ability to be a long-term option and credited him for grabbing the opportunity.
“I think so," Kumble told cricketnext when asked about the prospect of Rohit as a long-term opener. “When you asked me this prior to the series, I said until and unless you give him an opportunity, you won’t know. Now, he’s grabbed this opportunity with both hands. So, you have to give credit to Rohit. The way he’s batted, he’s matured since the time he made his Test debut.
“Let’s not forget that his Test career so far has been interrupted with a lot of injuries, freak injuries and some injuries which have come at the wrong time. I remember when I was the coach, he did exceptionally well in the Test series and then against New Zealand, he picked up that injury on his thigh, and he was out for almost 5-6 months. That was big enough for Rohit to lose his place in the team, and when he eventually made his comeback, he was always in and out.
“But this opportunity he’s grabbed with both hands and I’m really happy for Rohit because once he gets going, it’s really hard to keep him under check. We saw that, he’s someone who likes to go after the spin bowlers and hits those massive sixes. To go through centuries in both the innings, he can take the game away from the opposition, and that’s exactly what he’s done."
While Rohit excelled in his new role, there are still apprehensions on his technique against the moving ball in conditions favourable to pace bowling. In 12 Tests combined in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia - Rohit is yet to play a Test in England - he averages 25.36 as opposed to his home average of 44.95.
Kumble, though, said such worries are overrated and said Rohit has the right attitude and experience to overcome these flaws.
“I think we’ll only know once we get there. There’s no need to worry too much about those conditions at this point in time," Kumble said. “He has the experience to adjust. In my view, a lot of the technique and discussions about technique are overrated. You want in Test cricket, people with character, people who take up the challenge, who stand up to the occasion and not get flustered with what’s coming at them from the other end. So, if you have that kind of an attitude, invariably you’ll succeed, irrespective of whether you have the technique or not.
“I think the most important aspect in Test cricket is your attitude, and that’s something that we’ve seen Rohit have in plenty. So, I don’t see him worrying too much about what’s going to happen when India travel to South Africa, Australia or England. I think he’ll be able to manage those at that point. Let’s enjoy what he’s done in this Test match, and I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to the next two Test matches against South Africa and piling up more runs."