Southampton: Former Indian opener K Srikkanth feels Rohit Sharma’s ability to accelerate in an ‘instant’ is a major asset for the team and his good form will ease the pressure on Virat Kohli during the ongoing World Cup.
Rohit scored an unbeaten 144-ball 122 to anchor a successful chase against South Africa in India’s World Cup opener here, Wednesday.
“He (Rohit) did not need to ramp it up against South Africa, who had not scored enough runs in Southampton, but that knock will do him a lot of good,” Srikkanth wrote in a column for the ICC. “He can go from first gear to fourth gear in an instant and just kick on from there and keep clicking through the gears.”
“For India, having someone who can go and get not just hundreds but even double hundreds is a major asset and also relieves the pressure on Virat Kohli a little,” he explained.
Srikkanth said the top order will play a pivotal role in India’s World Cup campaign.
“The trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Sharma and Kohli will be crucial to India’s chances so it is a great sign that Sharma got a hundred and saw them over the line,” he wrote.
The 59-year-old Srikkanth, who was a member of India’s 1983 World Cup winning team, also singled out Jasprit Bumrah for special praise.
“The other standout performer was Jasprit Bumrah with the new ball. He really rattled the South Africans with his opening spell and that set the tone for the game,” Srikkanth wrote.
“Of course South Africa look a little demoralised after a tough start to the tournament, but his bowling was fantastic,” he said. “When you have Bumrah taking wickets early and forcing the opposition onto the defensive, that makes it easier for the spinners afterwards.”
Srikkanth feels India will face a problem of plenty in the pace department.
“I probably would have picked Mohammad Shami, and I still expect him to play a part in this tournament, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar took his chance well,” he wrote. “It will be an interesting selection dilemma throughout and I expect them to adapt depending on the wicket and the opposition.”
India will next face five-time champions Australia on June 9 and Srikkanth believes the two-time winners will be put to test.
“…India will probably have to improve at the Oval but overall it was a promising start. It is obviously still very early with most teams having only played one or two games but I think Australia and India are both contenders to make the semi-finals,” he wrote.
“For me, it will be those two and England, despite their loss to Pakistan and then probably one of West Indies or New Zealand,” he added. “That could change of course but if that is how it turns out, then the match between India and Australia takes on even greater importance and should be a great game on Sunday.”