Rohit Sharma‘s meteoric rise in Test cricket as an opener over the past two years has been sensational, to say the least. The 34-year-old, who was once considered to be just a white-ball specialist, has turned into one of India’s most dependable batsmen in Test cricket.
There was never any doubt about the kind of damage Rohit Sharma could do to the opposition in white-ball cricket. Therefore, the swashbuckling right-hander’s slow progress in Test cricket used to perplex the cricket fraternity.
However, things changed for Rohit Sharma in the World Test Championship (WTC) as he was backed as India’s Test opener in their home season against South Africa and Bangladesh. He repaid the faith by scoring 556 runs in just five Tests, at a stupendous average of 92.66 with three hundreds.
Rohit Sharma also silenced critics who claimed he could only perform in home conditions by slamming two half-centuries Down Under in four innings. The next big test for the 34-year-old is the WTC Final against the mighty New Zealand.
The Kiwis are the No.1 Test ranked Test team in the world and the conditions in England will definitely suit them. They have arguably the best pace quartet in Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson. Rohit Sharma will have his work cut out in unfamiliar conditions.
Rohit Sharma’s top 3 Test knocks against the Kiwis
One positive the right-hander would take with him to England is that he has a good record against the Kiwis in Test cricket. Rohit has scored 360 runs in five Tests at an excellent average of 60 with four half-centuries to his name.
On that note, let’s have a look at the three best knocks of Rohit Sharma against New Zealand in India whites:
#3 68* (93) – India vs New Zealand, 1st Test (September 22-26, 2016)
Result: India won by 197 runs
Hosts India played New Zealand in the first of the three-match Test series at Green Park in Kanpur in 2016. The two sides were neck-and-neck after their respective first innings and it was difficult to choose who had their noses in front.
But the hosts put out a strong batting performance in their second innings, with the likes of Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara slamming impressive half-centuries. With a platform set by the top-order, it was Rohit Sharma’s job, along with the others in the middle, to propel India to a target that would be out of the Kiwis’ reach.
Taking just 93 balls, Rohit Sharma scored a stylish unbeaten 68 runs that included eight boundaries. He was well-assisted by Ravindra Jadeja, who also scored a fifty. Rohit’s counter-attacking knock helped the hosts set a daunting target of 434, which proved to be too much for the Kiwis in the end.
#2 72 (120) – New Zealand vs India, 1st Test (February 6-9, 2014)
Result: New Zealand won by 40 runs
India toured New Zealand in 2014 for a two-match Test series, beginning with the one at Eden Park in Auckland. Batting first, the hosts put up a mammoth total of 503 on the board.
India had to get as close as possible to New Zealand’s total to give themselves a chance of taking a positive result from the game. However, that was not to be as the visitors found it difficult to cope with the excellent seam and swing of the Kiwis.
Boult, Southee and Wagner were all among the wickets as the visitors were bowled out for a modest 202. However, the saving grace was a fantastic 72-run knock by Rohit Sharma batting at No.5. While wickets tumbled at one end, the then 26-year-old knew he had to take the game to the opposition.
Rohit Sharma scored 8 boundaries and a six and looked set to get to his first overseas Test hundred. However, he was undone by an absolute snorter from Boult. India did bounce back to wrap up New Zealand for just 105 in their second innings fell 40 runs short of a famous victory after a thrilling run-chase.
#1 82 (132) – India vs New Zealand, 2nd Test (September 30- October 3 ,2016)
Result: India won by 178 runs
Rohit Sharma’s best Test knock against New Zealand had to come at his favorite ground – the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. India played the Kiwis in the second of the three-match series and were already 1-0 up.
The hosts got a healthy lead of 112 runs after the first innings of both teams and looked to make full use of the advantage. However, India were reduced to 91-5 in their second innings and the Kiwis were back in the game big time. This is when Rohit Sharma produced one of his best Test innings to date.
Forming a crucial partnership with Wriddhiman Saha, the then 29-year-old kept the scoreboard ticking and took his team out of the danger zone. Once he got his eye in, Rohit Sharma began to play his natural game and scored 82 runs off 132 balls.
Although he couldn’t get a hundred, Rohit Sharma proved why he was an asset to India even in the Test team. The hosts won the game by 178 runs and sealed the series 2-0.