Young turks fail to make the most of chances

Pressure building on Rohit, Raina

After a disastrous Test series against Australia, the whole nation was eagerly waiting to see a set of youngsters making a strong statement about their readiness to lead India in an era sans the big names.

huge disappointment: Much was expected of Rohit Sharma, but the Mumbai right-hander has struggled to get going in the triangular series in Australia. AFP

But after five matches, they are still to meet those expectations. Between Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja they have only one fifty to show, as India thus far have relied on Gautam Gambhir and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to notch up wins in the tri-series.

Let’s take a stock of their performances so far in the tournament.

Virat Kohli: The Delhi lad had taken a giant step with superb knocks in the Perth and Adelaide Tests last month, and it was natural to expect bigger things from him. But finally, the long tour seems to have caught up with him.

He made 77 against Sri Lanka, but failed to convert his starts in other matches. His eagerness to impose himself on the opposition from ball one, and a tendency to overuse that swat-flick against the pacers – a shot that carries the risk of generating leading edge or getting trapped in front of the wicket – have ensured that his outings remained largely inconsistent.

A certain looseness seems to have crept into his game. It might be because Kohli is feeling the pinch of playing non-stop cricket since the beginning of this tour or there’s the other more frightening prospect of him taking his place in the eleven for granted. That he’s still to make peace with the Australian crowd has only worsened the situation for him.

Kohli has gone through a roller coaster ride before reaching where he’s now, and hopefully he will not return to his brazen ways.

Rohit Sharma: The Mumbaikar has been by far the biggest letdown. There were cries galore during the Test series to give him a chance, but when his turn came, Rohit has flunked. It has been a long wait for him since India landed Down Under in December, and he should have shown a lot more keenness to exploit the opportunities he has been waiting so eagerly for.

All he has managed is a sequence reading 21, 10, 33, 15 and 0, often losing his wicket to loose shots after giving indications of a longer stay. In Brisbane, Rohit came to the field when Brett Lee and Ben Hilfenhaus were on top of their spell. Instead of showing patience, he slashed hard at Lee and that slapdash approach was quite baffling.

It’s all the more galling because Dhoni said one of the reasons for adopting the rotation policy for seniors was to give Rohit more chances.

The team management has been accommodative, but the 24-year-old, the star in the home and away one-day series against the West Indies last year, has not done justice. He needs to turn it around soon before the think-tank mulls the idea of giving someone else a run. Dhoni suggested a way forward for Rohit.

“Even if you don’t score too many runs at a brisk pace, you need to take those doubles and put pressure on fielders and you can go after the bowlers at a later stage,” Dhoni said. Hopefully, Rohit follows his skipper’s words.

Suresh Raina: The Uttar Pradesh left-hander’s perceived role is to finish the innings, but till date, Raina hasn’t been able to do that.

Just ponder over these statistics. His run of scores in the five matches has been 4 (9b), 24 (27b), 38 (30b), 8 (19b) and 28 (41b). Each time he got out, India were some distance away from victory.

The numbers also suggest the tale of a batsman who has failed to convert his starts, but Dhoni defended him. “If I need a No 6 batsman, for me Raina is someone who suits the slot more than Rohit because he has more experience at that slot. He knows how to play through an innings once he gets in at No 6,” Dhoni said of the southpaw, who has batted at No 5 all along the tournament.

Ravindra Jadeja: The sunshine moment for Jadeja, who batted at the difficult No 7 position, came when he marshaled a tough chase against Sri Lanka in the company of R Ashwin at Perth. But before and after that, the Saurashtra lad has been largely disappointing, garnering 19, 12, 3, and 18, but he has improved a lot as a left-arm spinner as the tournament has progressed.

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