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Rohit Sharma ticked all boxes in England series & emerged strong as India's Test captain

India vs England 2023-24: Rohit Sharma ticked all boxes in England series & emerged strong as India's Test captain. Rohit-led India team won series 4-1 against England.


South Africa vs India, Centurion Test_ Dissecting Rohit Sharma's captaincy blunders in Centurion. _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©X_Twitter)
Rohit Sharma made all right decision as captain (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

When India lost the first Test against England at Hyderabad by 28 runs, Rohit Sharma was criticised as a player and captain. He was criticised for letting the game drift when Ollie Pope crafted a masterful knock of 196. And during the chase, he let the team down with a low score. His team was called timid for failing to chase a 200-plus target in home conditions. 


But Rohit rose like a phoenix and silenced all his detractors who questioned his captaincy and batting, leading India to a 4-1 series win despite missing some seniors throughout the series. This series revealed some important captaincy traits of Rohit that must be pondered. 


Giving youngsters the confidence to play their natural game

Rohit was leading a batting order in transition, with Test veterans such as Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane being phased out, and star batter Virat Kohli missing out due to personal reasons. He backed a young opener in Yashasvi Jaiswal whom he partnered with to lead the batting unit. Jaiswal scored 700-plus runs in the series, and made two double tons, emerging as the second fastest Indian to score 1000 runs in Test cricket. 


He also backed youngsters such as Sarfaraz Khan and Devdutt Padikkal who both scored a fifty on debut. The biggest impact was debutant Dhruv Jurel who played the series-winning knock of 90 in the Ranchi Test. His handling of Shubman Gill was also commendable, as the new No. 3 shed his inconsistencies to strike two tons in the series. Another debutant Rajat Patidar was also given enough opportunities. Akash Deep took three wickets on his debut and became another important member of India’s reserve pace bowling unit. 


Overall, Rohit’s handling of youngsters was impressive, he kept motivating them, never letting initial success make them complacent, and gave them enough room to make mistakes and learn. He never went overboard praising Jaiswal in the press meet and kept saying let the young batter play more and learn.



India vs England, 3rd Test, Day 1_ Rohit Sharma scored 131 on first day _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Rohit Sharma scored 131 in Ranchi Test (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Rohit led from the front

Rohit went into the England series with a string of low scores. Critics were already baying for his blood, questioning his suitability for Test cricket at 36. However, after failures in the first two Tests, Rohit came back with a bang with a much-needed century (131) at Rajkot when India were in shambles at 33/3. 


Again, in the Ranchi Test, he led from the front in the chase of 195, striking a fifty to pave the platform for Gill and Jurel to finish off the game. Yet again, in the Dharamsala Test, he made another century to silence his detractors who were questioning his batting in the longest format of the game.


Field setting and bowling combinations

What was praiseworthy of Rohit’s captaincy and team management’s handling of the team was that there was no panic button hit after the disappointing loss at Hyderabad from a position of strength. India stuck to the bowling combinations that have kept them unbeaten in the Test series at home since 2012. 


Rohit put great faith in his bowlers, who responded admirably in the next four Tests to hand India a 4-1 series win. After Ollie Pope had swept, reverse swept, scooped and reverse scooped England to a win in Hyderabad, India went back to the drawing boards and came out with bowling and fielding strategies to counter the attacking instinct and executed them well.

 

Rohit's handling of his bowlers was astute and the field setting was commendable. England often did the self-demolition job after acute pressure from the bowlers and sharp field placements. There were no easy balls to score boundaries, while the field setting was in the right place to frustrate England batters who fell like a pack of cards several times during the series.

 

Even when there was a recovery from England batters, Rohit didn’t flinch and kept faith in his bowlers to finish the job. The trust Rohit showed in his bowlers gave the unit enough confidence to get the job done. The rise of Kuldeep Yadav as a strike bowler, the development of Bumrah as a master of reverse swing, the legend of Ashwin, and the consistency of Jadeja were all evident – and a lot of credit goes to Rohit for handling his bowlers expertly.



Team selections

India went with a young batting unit as they decided to move on and give youngsters a chance to build the team for the future. The biggest missing player was Virat Kohli due to personal reasons. But Rohit accepted the challenge with both hands and gave enough security to young batters to perform well and come good in the series. 


It paid dividends with Gill shrugging off low scores to post two tons, Jaiswal scoring two double tons, Sarfaraz and Padikkal making fifties on debut, while Jurel playing a matured knock in Ranchi. He was also bold in his selections as he dropped keeper KS Bharat for Jurel who played the series-winning knock of 90. He was also bang on with the bowling combinations with Kuldeep completing the spin puzzle after missing the first Test. 


Overall, team selections went a long way to help India win the series 4-1 – the biggest jewel in the short Test captaincy career of Rohit Sharma


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