India vs Sri Lanka: Visitors exposed chink in Rohit Sharma's armour by using leg-spinner Akila Dananjaya against him

Given Rohit Sharma’s miserable past against leg-spin, it might be a move many captains will look to employ against him in the future.

Rohit Sankar, Dec 18, 2017 12:16:58 IST

IPL - Mumbai Indians vs Rising Pune Supergiant - 6 April, 2017 at Pune

Rohit Sharma bowled Imran Tahir 3 (7)

Walking in at No 3 with a strong platform set by Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler, all Rohit had to do was to take a single and bring the raging Buttler on strike. But he had Imran Tahir, one of the best T20 bowlers going around, to contend with. Tahir came wide off the stumps, landed one on the centre of the wicket after drifting in and got it to zip through. Rohit was caught in no-man's land as he tried to nudge it to the leg-side and lost his stumps.

IPL - Mumbai Indians vs Sunrisers Hyderabad - 12 April, 2017 at Mumbai

Rohit lbw Rashid Khan 4 (4)

Chasing a relatively smaller target, Rohit walked out early after Buttler’s dismissal but David Warner greeted him with the young Afghan leg-spinner, Rashid Khan. The 18-year-old landed a googly outside the off-stump and it spun back in to rap Rohit on the pads and trapped him in front.

IPL - Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Mumbai Indians - 14 April, 2017 at Bengaluru

Rohit bowled Samuel Badree 0 (2)

Chasing 143 for victory, Rohit Sharma had to face the hat-trick ball from West Indian leggie, Samuel Badree, who had sent back Parthiv and pinch-hitter Mitchell McCleneghan off consecutive balls. Badree must have watched Rohit’s twin failures against the googly that season and pushed in another one. The skipper prodded forward to meet a leg-break, left a crater open between bat and pad and had his stumps rattled.

IPL - Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Daredevils - 22 April, 2017 at Mumbai

Rohit caught Pat Cummins bowled Amit Mishra 5 (9)

Coming in at No 4, Rohit had to once again face a leggie, and instead of hanging around and playing his clueless defensive shots, the Mumbai Indians went for an all-out slog sweep. But once again it was the googly and Rohit did not get enough of it to clear the fence and was caught out at long-leg.

India vs Sri Lanka 3rd ODI - 17 December, 2017 at Visakhapatnam

Rohit bowled Akila Dananjaya 7 (14)

Having just slammed a double-hundred, Rohit Sharma was in his Hitman-mode and showcased his intent early on by stepping out to Akila Dananjaya and hitting him over long-on. But Dananjaya came back two balls later with a googly. The ball landed outside off and spun back into the right-hander. An uncertain Rohit pushed forward leaving a big gap between bat and pad and had his stumps in tatters.

***

There certainly seems to be a trend in these dismissals. The marauding, unmatchable, sublime Indian ODI opener seems to have a glaring weakness, which teams have failed to expose. Having been taken for a heartbreaking outing at Mohali, Sri Lanka had a special plan up their sleeve against Rohit at Visakhapatnam.

They unleashed their mystery leg-spinner, Dananjaya, who had troubled Rohit in the ODIs in Sri Lanka three months back, with the new ball.

India's Rohit Sharma is bowled out by Sri Lanka's Akila Dananjaya during their third and final ODI. AP

India's Rohit Sharma is bowled out by Sri Lanka's Akila Dananjaya during their third and final ODI. AP

The Mumbaikar loves pace on the ball early on – not with too much swing, though – and having been denied of that, he had to contend with leg-spin, which is not his strongest forte.

The ploy worked as Rohit was bamboozled by Dananjaya yet again which brings us to the more important question — Have the Lankans exposed a chink in the his armour?

Initial signs show that the chink has always existed in Rohit’s batting. It is no secret that Rohit had struggled to become a consistent batsman in the Indian setup early on when he batted in the middle order, where he had to face spinners early in the innings.

The move to the top enabled him to face pace upfront, get into a good zone and then play the spinners after he had settled down. On subcontinental wickets or hard ones like in Australia, Rohit flourished. He would take his time to get into a groove but his timing would be ominous by the time the first change bowlers came on.

“It was just a simple mistake. I was trying to play with the spin, which is what we're taught, but these guys (leg-spinners) were bowling googlies, so I had to play against it. The first ball, you never play against the spin. That's something which I was supposed to do there but I didn't because, when you go in...yes, it's a challenging tournament, bowlers will keep challenging you every now and then. You have to be prepared for it," Rohit had said during the 2017 IPL season where his weakness became more prominent.

However, the same eye-popping shots that he plays vanish the moment the ball starts to swing or spin early on.

For instance, one can barely forget his encounter with Dale Steyn on a seaming Johannesburg wicket way back in 2014. Steyn sent down a mesmerising spell, where the ball moved about a lot and Rohit had no answers at all. For the first 15 balls of that innings, Rohit was all at sea against the seamer and could not get bat to ball.

At Dharamsala in the first ODI, on another green-tinged surface, Suranga Lakmal had Rohit in all sorts of trouble with swing and seam before sending him back early in the innings.

On lively wickets, like at Johannesburg, Steyn and Lakmal's ploy of making Rohit play fuller deliveries might work but on the hard subcontinental wickets, Sri Lanka might have found the right weapon to use against the Mumbaikar – unleash spin, in particular leg-spin, on him early.

Rohit's woes against leg-spin are also well documented but few captains around the globe have had the guts to introduce a wrist-spinner in the powerplay overs in One Day Internationals. Thisara Perera has set a trend, and going by Rohit’s miserable past against leg-spin, it might be a move many captains will look to employ against the Hitman.

Updated Date: Dec 18, 2017 12:16:58 IST







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