After a see-saw battle at the Oval so far that will head to a pulsating showdown on the final day of the fourth Test with the game still hanging in the balance, Indian bowlers will have their task cut out.
India witnessed a dramatic turnaround in the last two sessions of the day after losing two early wickets, securing a comprehensive total of 466. A dominant performance from the bottom half of the pecking order helped India post a mammoth target of 368. However, with the pitch still having a lot of juice left in it, English batsmen have a relatively easier task to dictate proceedings on Day 5 if Indian bowlers fail to make early inroads.
With all said and done, one of the major talks of the town in the series for India has been Rohit Sharma. The Hitman has been effusively prolific with the bat and has scored runs at will, despite a couple of early departures.
His boisterous century in the second innings set India en route to the monumental effort that they put in to stave away England. Despite such an excellent illustration of strokeplay and aggression throughout the series, only time shall tell whether the magnificent knock in the second innings would actually aid India in clinching a remarkable victory at the Oval.
However, if we keep aside the statistics and the current thoughts of the upshot at the end of day five, we should actually take a moment and praise Rohit Sharma.
The right-handed opener has been the most successful batsman in the Indian echelons against the formidable English quartet of pace. There has been a lot of dissection going around Sharma’s batting display, maybe in a desperate attempt to thwart him from inflicting further damage.
There are basically three things that Rohit has religiously followed and success has come knocking at his doorstep.
Most importantly, he has played with a straight bat and has exposed a bigger part of his blade to the ball. His number of drives has been relatively lower that has allowed him to negotiate well with the balls swinging away from him. Playing with a straight bat has allowed him to defend the balls with much more ease instead of being worried about it being carried away.
He has also played exceptionally late. His late commitment in the strokes has freed up some space for the hard-hitting opener. One of the rudimentary to deal with swing and seam is to wait for the ball to do its magic and then get into the stride or the stroke.
There were a couple of times when he waited until the dying extent of the delivery to come close to his bat before he finally lifted it in an attempt to deny anything to the English to be happy about. Playing late takes a lot of courage and precise timing and Rohit has played fearlessly in England.
The final ingredient in his recipe of success has been his ability to get on top of the balls. It is extremely important to get on top of the balls to play a controlled stroke and illustrate late commitment so that en route to the keeper’s arms or the pads of the batter, it doesn’t succeed in forcing something out of the blue.
In case of any deviation from the mainline, Sharma can easily bring his bat down and dominate the ball by a decent use of a flick or a glance in any direction. That getting on top of the deliveries is also one of the reasons why Rohit has so effectively dealt with the toe-crushers as it has allowed him to conveniently time his bat-lifts and swings in case of a sudden mix-up from the bowler.