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Rohit has hardly made it count in challenging conditions: Kris Srikkanth
From the Wed Desk, 13/01/2018, New Delhi

Former opener Kris Srikkanth has criticised the Indian team management's decision to stick with Rohit Sharma who he feels has time and again failed to perform in tough conditions.

Rohit made it to the playing XI in the first Test at Cape Town and scored a combined 21 runs in two innings. India went on to lose the game by 72 runs after their batsmen capitulated in chase of 208 on Day 4.
He was preferred over Ajinkya Rahane who has centuries in Wellington, Melbourne, London, Jamaica and Colombo (twice). Moreover, he averages a superb 53.44 outside India. In contrast, Rohit averages a sorry 25.11 when not playing at home and has four fifties in 27 innings to show for.

Writing in his column for TOI, Srikkanth said the management made a few errors in choosing the team for the series opener. "From the moment India surrendered the Cape Town Test, suggestions on changes to the line-up for the second Test became inevitable. Results in team sport will always hinge on selection and I frankly believe the think tank got a few calls wrong," Srikkanth said.

He felt that Rohit is yet to prove his worth despite several chances that have come his way but Rahane has shown he has the technique to excel in challenging conditions and thus should've been part of the playing XI. "Well I have the advantage of talking after the game is over but to bench a proven customer [overseas] like [Ajinkya] Rahane and playing Rohit Sharma instead lacked logic," he said. "In the numerous chances he has received, Rohit has hardly made it count in challenging conditions, while Rahane has shown he has the ability to lift his game when taken out of his comfort zone."

He also advised against dropping offspinner R Ashwin who made little impact in Cape Town. The Test was dominated by pacers as Ashwin bowled 7.1 overs in the first innings and just one in the next. But he fared better with the bat when compared to the top-order batsmen. In India's first dig, he scored 12 off 31 while he was the top-scorer from either side in the second innings with 37 off 53. Srikkanth, who played 43 Tests and 146 ODIs for India, says Ashwin's all-round credentials provide a balance to the side. "There have been talks of [Ravichandran] Ashwin being dropped to accommodate Rahane. In my opinion this would be a backward step," he said. "Ashwin did most things expected of him and looked more at ease than some of the top-order batsmen. He has done well outside the sub-continent as a batsman. Add his ability with the ball, he lends good balance to the side as well."

For the record, Ashwin has four centuries and 11 fifties across 56 Tests for India. However, he did back inclusion of KL Rahul over Shikhar Dhawan to open the innings saying the former is a better bet against the moving ball.

"The result might have still been the same, but India would have given themselves a better chance of starting the series better. And KL Rahul is one opener who is unruffled against the moving ball. He is slightly more solid at the crease than Shikhar Dhawan. The left-hander did get a brute of a ball in the second innings, however given his track record outside Asia, I would have preferred Rahul to open with Vijay," he said.

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