Twin Hundreds in his first test as an opener. Yes, Rohit Sharma became the first batsman in history to hit twin hundreds in the very first test as an opener. The fans went berserk with the success of Rohit Sharma, while the critics have some doubt about his fortune overseas.
The trend of making a middle-order batsman as an opener is mostly in the sub-continent. The trend started in the 90s, and the first of them was Ravi Shastri, followed by Sanath Jayasuriya, VVS Laxman (for a little time), Shahid Afridi, Virender Sehwag, and Tillakaratne Dilshan to name a few.
All the batsmen in the world like the ball to come on to bat, and most of these makeshift openers were quite successful in Australia, where the ball comes on bat nicely for the strokeplay. But the concept of seeing off the new ball and making it easier for the middle order has started to vanish since 2000. The hard-hitting openers generally look for a quick start rather than seeing off the new ball. They have been successful in doing that in the sub-continent and to some extent, in Australia. Most of them have increased their overall average because of opening, but that’s where they rely on their stroke play against pace and bounce.
The game has changed over the years, but the conditions haven’t, especially in England, New Zealand, and South Africa. Except for one of the odd series, most of them failed in England, New Zealand, and South Africa. The red ball moves a lot in overcast conditions, which ain’t a rare sight in these three countries. The new ball makes life difficult for any batsman at the top. None of them has excelled in these conditions, so does it make it more straightforward for the teams to look for regular openers rather than makeshift ones in these conditions? At least 15 off 45 against the new ball and giving a chance to middle order is better than scoring 15 off seven balls and putting the team into trouble.
Rohit has not been successful outside the sub-continent as a middle-order batsman, but he is carrying the form of his life this year. Scoring runs at will, which makes a sense to try him as an opener. He is class and looks most elegant when he plays shots at the top in limited-overs. But he is 32, and he will be playing a maximum of 4 to 5 more years. Prithvi Shaw will be knocking the doors again in November and he is young too. Will the selectors make him sit outside or will they give him a chance who could be India’s permanent opener for the next 10-12 years.
India’s next overseas tour is in February 2020 against New Zealand in their den. Probably Rohit’s biggest test of all. The good thing about the journey is India playing 5 T20I and 3 ODIs before playing 2 Tests, which will help Rohit to settle and adapt the conditions well.