India vs South Africa: Rohit Sharma looks to make strong case for opener's slot in Test series with good performance in warm-up match

With the national selection committee and the team management deciding to promote Rohit as an opener the next five Tests could be a make or break for him

Press Trust of India, Sep 25, 2019 12:27:47 IST

Vizianagaram: Rohit Sharma will begin a last-ditch effort to save his stop-start Test career with a trial run in the unfamiliar opener's slot when he leads the Board President's XI in a three-day warm-up game against South Africa, starting on Thursday.

With the national selection committee and the team management deciding to promote Rohit as an opener, keeping his spunky stroke-play in mind, the next five Tests could be a make or break for the 32-year-old stylish right-hander.

India vs South Africa: Rohit Sharma looks to make strong case for openers slot in Test series with good performance in warm-up match

File image of Rohit Sharma. Reuters

He will have Mayank Agarwal for company as the two would look to strike an understanding before the first Test starting on 2 October in Visakhapatnam.

The third notable character in the game would be Umesh Yadav, who has been drafted into the Test side as an injured Jasprit Bumrah's replacement.

He will look to rattle the likes of Faf Du Plessis and Aiden Makram in order to make a statement.

But the focus from Thursday will undoubtedly be on Rohit.

One of the modern-day greats in the white-ball format, Rohit's average of 39.62 in 27 Tests, including three hundreds, doesn't do justice to his potential.

Red-ball vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and the fast-rising Hanuma Vihari consolidated their middle-order slots with impressive performances in the West Indies and the only remaining option for Rohit was to bat at the top.

The three-day game against the quality red-ball attack of South Africa, comprising Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi, will be a good dress rehearsal before the opening game in Visakhapatnam.

Rohit's technique against the moving red SG, Dukes or Kookaburra has been suspect but this is an inspired punt that Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri are ready to take keeping Virender Sehwag's stupendous success in mind.

If it clicks, this will be considered a masterstroke but if it doesn't, the A team's supply line of openers comprising Shubman Gill, Abhimanyu Easwaran and Priyank Panchal will be there.

Not to forget KL Rahul, who would look to score heavily and get his place back and Prithvi Shaw, also hungry as ever after having served a doping ban and learnt harsh lessons of life.

Even if Rohit succeeds on the low and slow sub-continental tracks, there's no guarantee that he would be able to replicate it on the grounds in New Zealand, where Trent Boult promises to bring it back in repeatedly.

The road ahead will be tricky for one of India's finest ODI openers as the next six months will decide his fate in the game's traditional format.

The Squads:

Board President's XI: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav

South Africa Test squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma (vc), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Senuran Muthusamy, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second.

Match Starts: 9.30 am.

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Updated Date: Sep 25, 2019 12:27:47 IST






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1 India 5046 120
2 Australia 4320 108
3 England 5253 105
4 New Zealand 3449 105
5 South Africa 3537 98
6 Sri Lanka 4191 91
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1 England 6967 124
2 India 7939 118
3 New Zealand 5347 116
4 South Africa 5442 111
5 Australia 5854 110
6 Pakistan 5019 98
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1 Pakistan 8926 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 6095 265
4 India 12141 264
5 South Africa 5248 262
6 New Zealand 7114 245