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India vs England: Sublime Rohit Sharma Lights Up Chepauk and Silences Doubters - For Now

India opener Rohit Sharma started Day 1 of the second Test against England in Chennai fighting for his place. He ended it being the main reason India finished the day at 300-6.

India vs England: Sublime Rohit Sharma Lights Up Chepauk and Silences Doubters - For Now

Rohit Sharma's Test career has been the subject of intense scrutiny since the time he started making waves in the national scheme of things. His calm and collective strokeplay, coupled with attacking instincts that are evident from the first ball itself, have seen him flourish in white ball cricket yet at one point it seemed like he would have to be content being known merely as a white-ball great. He has since been given another chance to prove his credentials in red-ball cricket - this time as an opener - yet the consistency of performances have not been enough for a player of his talent.

Indeed, before the second Test in Chennai there were serious question marks about whether or not he should be dropped from the playing XI, with his younger opening partner Shubman Gill constantly outshining him in recent outings. Yet when Gill was dismissed early on the day, it was Rohit who took charge of things. Perhaps one of Rohit's biggest failings in the longest format of the game has been the inability to curb his attacking instincts.

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Here he played the waiting game, content to sit back and wait for the bad balls to come his way. He still did score largely in boundaries but there was no element of unnecesary risk-taking involved in his batting. He brought up his half-century in 47 balls, having hit nine boundaries till that point in the innings. However, disaster struck for India at the stroke of lunch as both Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli were sent back to the shed.

The double blow meant that Rohit and India's vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane started the second session relativly slowly. Eventually though Rahane released the pressure with a boundary of his own and Rohit soon followed suit.

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He was into the 90s with minimal fuss and brought up a ton by running two off Moeen Ali, a bowler he had targetted for most of his stay at the crease. His 150 soon followed as him and Rahane, both well set, took on the English bowlers with ease. However, the end came about in typical Rohit Sharma fashion. He went for an attacking sweep off Jack Leach but mistimed the shot and found Moeen at deep square leg.

But even with the way it ended, there is little doubt of the importance of Rohit's knock for India's chances of ending the second match on the winning side.

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Not only did he bat responsibly at a time when it was needed most, he also ensured he kept the scoreboard ticking and his 161 was a key reason why India ended Day 1 at 300-6. The Chepauk pitch was expected to disintegrate quicker and thus offer more assistance to the slower bowlers. Indeed, the likes of Moeen and Leach - and to an extent, Joe Root and his part-time off-spin - were getting both grip and turn on the pitch.

The pitch will only become harder to bat on as the Test match carries on and one can't help but feel that a first innings score in the 350-400 range would itself be competitive, especially since India are armed with a trio of spinners - each of whom bring something different to the table.

The knock will also quell the doubts around Rohit's viability in the longest format of the game - at least for now.

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Consistency - or a lack of it - has been Rohit's major issue during his Test career and there also remain questions over whether or not he can get the job done in overseas conditions. Those questions will be answered on another day.

For now, Rohit can bask in a job well done - both for the team and for himself.

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1 New Zealand 3198 118
2 Australia 3028 116
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
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1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
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1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
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