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Champions Trophy: Won’t be easy for Rohit Sharma to open in England, says Azhar

Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma celebrated his comeback to the national team ahead of the Champions Trophy (CT) in England next month with a half-century against Sunrisers Hyderabad (on May 8) in IPL-10

Rohit Sharma in Bangalore yesterday
Rohit Sharma in Bangalore yesterday

Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma celebrated his comeback to the national team ahead of the Champions Trophy (CT) in England next month with a half-century against Sunrisers Hyderabad (on May 8) in IPL-10.

However, there’s no denying the fact that with just 283 runs in 15 matches at 23.58 this season, form has eluded the stylish batsman. Another talking point has been his batting position. Primarily an opener for India (the selectors also announced that Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan will be the openers during the 50-over event beginning from June 1), the Mumbai batsman has been shuffled in the MI batting order, a move that has bewildered former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin.

Former India captain Mohd Azharuddin and ex-Sri Lankan skipper Sanath Jayasuriya during a selection camp for a private T20 league at Air-India ground, Kalina yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Former India captain Mohd Azharuddin and ex-Sri Lankan skipper Sanath Jayasuriya during a selection camp for a private T20 league at Air-India ground, Kalina yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

“When you’re an opener, you should play at the top. I always feel that the best players should play the first 50 or 20 overs. If they are getting to play after eight or 10 overs in T20 or after 30 overs in the 50-over format, it’s of no use. Rohit is a good player and I was very surprised that he was batting between No. 3 to No. 5. What was he doing?” Azharuddin said on the sidelines of Mumbai selection camp for True Premier League, a private T20 tournament, at Air India Cricket Club ground in Kalina yesterday.

Azharuddin, who led India in three World Cups and had a healthy win percentage of 51.70, feels Rohit (averages 41.37 in ODIs) will find it tough in England. “I’ll advise him to get used to the opening spot. It won’t be easy to open straightaway because the conditions are different. He’s coming back after an injury. All this will play on his mind,” he added.

Stressing on the role of openers in England, Azharuddin said: “If the openers give a good start, we can reach 275-280. In English conditions, with the ball moving and overcast skies, that’s a good score. In England (performance of openers) matters a lot because if you expose your No. 3 or No. 4 or No. 5 batsmen early, you might not do well.”

Malinga can still win games for SL: Sanath
Former Sri Lanka skipper Sanath Jayasuriya has backed out-of-form pacer Lasith Malinga, who has picked just 10 wickets in 10 matches for Mumbai Indians in IPL-10. Malinga, who last played an ODI in November 2015, was named in SL’s 15-man squad for the ICC Champions Trophy. “Being out of form is part of cricket. I’ve not seen a cricketer, who hasn’t been out of form in my 19-year career. Malinga might be going through a lean patch, but he’s strong enough to comeback and win matches for Lanka,” said Jayasuriya.

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