Mohammad Azharuddin believes that Rohit Sharma will find it tough opening the innings for India in the upcoming Champions Trophy after dropping himself down the order in the ongoing IPL 2017. Azharuddin also believes that adapting to the English conditions will be the key for both Sharma and India.
Rohit Sharma has always been known for his ability to bat in whichever position the team asks of him. However, there are times where such professionalism can work against a batsman and former Indian captain Azharuddin believes that Sharma will find it tough opening for India, after batting in the middle order for the Mumbai Indians in the ongoing IPL.
“When you are an opening batsman, you should open. I always feel that the best players should play the first 20 overs. If your best batsmen are playing after 8-10 overs in T20s and after 30 overs in a 50-overs game, there's no use. Rohit Sharma is a good player, and I was very surprised to see him bat at No. 3 or 4 or 5 (for MI),” Azharuddin was quoted by DNA.
Moreover, given that Sharma is coming off the back of a five-month injury layoff, Azharuddin believes that the transition will not be easy to make and that the Mumbaikar should not have changed his position in the ongoing tournament. “He has to get used to the spot quickly. It's going to be tough for him to straightaway go and open because the conditions are different and he is coming back from an injury. All these things will play on his mind.”
Azharuddin, who played 99 Tests and 334 ODIs for India and has considerable experience of playing in England, had a word of caution for Sharma’s opening partner Shikhar Dhawan.
“He's a good player, but the consistency has to come. It's fine that he is doing well in IPL, but he has to be consistent as well. I think he did well in England in 2013, and hopefully, he takes that confidence this time around. But he has to deliver.”
Dhawan and Sharma were a major part of the reason why India won the 2013 Champions Trophy and the former skipper believes that the duo will have to perform once again if India
Finally, like most others, Azharuddin backed India to retain their title given the all round strength of their squad and also played down Virat Kohli’s lack of form in the IPL.
“It (failure with RCB) should not play in his mind. He has done well. He should take that confidence forward rather than thinking negative. He's a good player, and he doesn't have anything to prove to anybody. But at the same time, if he does well, it'll be like a feather in his cap,”