India opener Rohit Sharma's recipe for success: run Virat Kohli out

Sudhir Gupta 13/02/2018
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Some players have a great mutual understanding between them, especially when it comes to running between the wickets. They automatically understand their partner’s body language and signals. It’s safe to say Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli don’t fall in that category.

Tuesday’s run out during India’s ODI against South Africa in Port Elizabeth was the seventh occasion Rohit and Kohli have been involved in a run out. That’s the second worst record by any pair in ODIs in the last decade behind the South African duo of AB de Villiers-Faf du Plessis and Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan who have been involved in eight apiece.

Out of those seven instances, Kohli has been forced to walk back to the pavilion on five occasions with the fifth being Tuesday’s ODI.

While the run outs have proven costly for Kohli, they have been extremely lucky, in a way, for Rohit.

The India opener has cashed in every time he has run Kohli out in ODIs. The first time Rohit ran Kohli out, the Mumbai batsman ended up making 57 against the West Indies in Kingston in 2011. Two years later, another mix-up ended on a good note for Rohit as he smashed 209 against Australia in Bengaluru. History repeated itself in 2014 as Rohit ran Kohli out against Sri Lanka in Kolkata and went on to become the only player in history to score two ODI double tons with his knock of 264.

In 2016 against the Aussies in Brisbane, Rohit scored 124 after running the current skipper out and the ‘lucky’ trend continued in South Africa on Tuesday where the Mumbai opener hit the 17th century of his ODI career with a classy 115.

So in the future if Rohit is ever out of form, needs to score big and finds Kohli at the other end, he knows what to do.

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India wicketkeeper MS Dhoni 46 runs away from ODI history

Sudhir Gupta 13/02/2018
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Wicketkeeper MS Dhoni has done it all on the cricket field, captaining India to all three major ICC titles and taking the team to the No1 spot in Tests. Now playing purely as a wicketkeeper batsman, the 36-year-old has two other major milestones in his sights as India play the fifth ODI of their series against South Africa on Tuesday.

Not only will Dhoni look to help India win the match in Port Elizabeth that will give them a first ODI series win in South Africa, he will also aim to get the 46 runs he needs to become just the 12th man in ODI history to score 10,000 runs.

As and when Dhoni scores the required runs, the wicketkeeper will be the only batsman in the 10,000-run club with an average of more than 50. He currently averages 51.5 from 316 matches. The next best on the list is Sachin Tendulkar who scored 18,426 runs from 463 matches at 44.8.

The Jharkhand player has another record within reach. Dhoni is five away from 300 catches in ODI cricket. With seamers and spinners among the wickets during the ongoing series, there is a good chance of Dhoni reaching the milestone on Tuesday.

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India paying the price for failing to fill the middle-order void left by Suresh Raina

Ashish Peter 12/02/2018
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Raina's quick-fire cameos down the order is sorely missed.

It has been more than two years since Suresh Raina last featured for India in an ODI.

The 31-year-old, who was a vital component of the side’s 2011 ICC World Cup winning side, ultimately lost his place after a string of poor performances against South Africa at home in 2015.

Ironically, he was sorely missed in India’s defeat at the hands of the Proteas in the fourth ODI at Johannesburg on Saturday. After Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli had set up the visitors nicely for a final assault in the death overs, India’s middle-order batsmen failed to drive home the advantage.

That proved costly as the hosts kept the series alive with a thrilling five-wicket win. The likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer and MS Dhoni failed to provide the acceleration needed in the closing stages as India went from 200-2 in 34 overs to eventually finish on 289-7.

As the middle-order struggled to lift the scoring rate despite being given the perfect platform, one could not help but wonder how valuable a quick-fire 30 or 40 from Raina would have been in that instance. The southpaw’s role in the erstwhile Indian side had been that of a finisher, the batsman who profits in the death overs after the top order has laid a solid foundation.

Yuvraj and Raina were excellent finishers for India in their prime.

Yuvraj and Raina were excellent finishers for India in their prime.

It was this ability of Raina, and Yuvraj Singh as well, to score quick runs towards the end that was a valuable asset to the ODI side. The fact that the pair could also bowl some part-time spin was an added bonus.

India’s template in 50-over cricket over the past few years has depended on the top-order sticking around until the 40th over mark before launching a final assault.

With Dhoni’s powers fading, the middle-order conundrum facing Kohli at the moment can all be attributed to a failure to replace Raina and Yuvraj adequately.

They may have potentially secured the latter’s replacement in Hardik Pandya but there still remains a Raina-shaped void.

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