India love having Rohit Sharma in the Test squad: Alastair Cook

Written by Vishwas Gupta

Former England opener Alastair Cook has backed Rohit Sharma to have a long run as Test opener, saying India loves the manner in which he goes about his knocks whenever he gets settled into his innings. Cook added Rohit will be dangerous in sub-continent conditions, considering his ability to seal the initiative with his aggressive approach.

On a spin-friendly pitch in Chennai, it was difficult to survive on the pitch but Rohit took the attacking route and succeeded at it as he scored 161 at a strike rate of close to 70. He hit 18 boundaries and 2 sixes as he was sweeping and driving against spin with ease.

Rohit’s 7th Test hundred helped India end Day 1 at 300 for 6, seizing the initiative days after losing the first Test by a mammoth 227-run margin. Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane stitched a 162-run stand as they kept the scoreboard moving to help India recover from the quick wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli before Lunch.

“He is a little bit more attacking than I was. He is not quite Sehwag in terms of that kind of attack he (Sehwag) is probably is one of the most attacking and successful opening batsmen. Rohit is probably in the next tier of aggressiveness but he looked so controlled. In that innings, he wanted to attack when he wanted, everything looked quite controlled.

“The only obvious issue with Rohit is that line outside the off-stump, the way he got out in the first innings of the 1st Test match. His record away from home isn’t great. That’s where you need to target him but obviously, this pitch doesn’t have that pace,” Alastair Cook told BBC’s Test Match Special Podcast.

“In these conditions, he looked absolutely world class. His stats in India averaging over 50 shows that.”

Cook pointed out that Rohit did struggle for consistency during the initial phase of his Test career but that he has transformed into a fine batsman after starting to open the innings for India as late as 2019.

“… Also, when he has played, he wasn’t that consistent to start with. Also, the Indian selectors make changes if he was English, maybe he would have been given a longer run,” Cook added.

“He has only just started opening. He has batted a lot in the middle order. Only in the last little bit he has taken his one-day opening role, he has obviously opened a lot in one-day, into the red-ball (format).

“He is here to stay for a while. They like having him in the squad and he is in the team for that all-round package — Clearly his runs and the manner he gets his runs, if he gets in, he is going to do what he has done today (more often).”

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Vishwas Gupta