Mahendra Singh Dhoni told me I was ‘capable’ of opening the batting, reveals Rohit Sharma

Image courtesy of: The Indian Express

“Whatever little MS spoke with me, he did suggest that I have the ability to open the batting and counter the new ball”

India opening batsman Rohit Sharma has revealed that he became acquainted with the role of opening the batting after captain Mahendra Singh told him he was “capable” and had the “ability” of becoming a proficient opener.

Sharma stated that he has been succeeding as an opener since he has more time to get acquainted with the pitch conditions.

“We haven’t spoken at length about this,” Sharma told The Times of India. “But whatever little MS spoke with me, he did suggest that I have the ability to open the batting and counter the new ball. I’m glad he finds me capable of it and I’ve also been working hard on it.”

Sharma also noted that opening the batting in ODIs had become much more challenging ever since the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided to introduce a new ball at both ends.

“Oh yes, facing two new balls is not easy,” he said. “The new rules have had an impact and we’re happy we could manage to do well and adjust to them. As far as opening is concerned, it is about how mentally strong you are, what kind of pressure you can manage to take and deliver.”

The 26-year-old first started opening the batting for India in January 2011, but was soon demoted down the order after only managing to score 29 runs in three innings.

He was given his opening spot back in January this year when India took on England and has been in red hot form ever since, scoring 580 runs in 16 innings at an impressive average of 41.42.

Sharma also amassed six half-centuries during this period, but has failed to convert any of them into triple-figure scores.

“Well, earlier it was about not getting runs, now it’s about not converting 50s into 100s,” he said. “I’m sure next it’s going to be about not converting 100s into 150s. I don’t know why people pick on these things so easily.

“Okay, I do understand that challenge is a good thing and it makes you work harder. But I’ve also just started playing a new role in the team (as opener). It’s been just four months. People do expect too much in a very limited period of time. I know people want me to do well. But sometimes, these expectations are just too high.

“I’d personally like to believe that as long as the team is winning, the contributions are in place and players are taking care of the responsibility assigned to them, it’s fine. Probably, the next step is to be the match-winner and be consistent at it. It will happen with time. It’s a learning process forever.”

Sharma also believes his poor conversion rate has nothing to do with him losing his concentration.

“No,” he said immediately. “That’s not the case at all. There’s so much competition, you cannot afford to think like that. If you look at my first-class statistics, I have 16 hundreds and 20 50s, which means I hold an appetite for longer innings.

“I have three double-hundreds and a triple. I like to bat longer. Recently, on the A tour of South Africa, I played 250 balls to get my hundred in the first Test. It has not been my nature to play that kind of an innings. But eventually I was glad I did it. It was very satisfying. It is something I will keep working on.”

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