Can Rohit Sharma lead MI to their 6th IPL title?
Former India wicketkeeper-batsman Saba Karim wants Rohit Sharma to shrug off the ‘peculiar’ case of his lackluster returns in the IPL. Karim said the abundance of match-winners in Mumbai Indians (MI) takes the shine off the skipper’s batting performance, which certainly needs improvement this season.
Despite MI’s unparalleled success over the past few years, Rohit Sharma’s numbers in the IPL have seen a major hit. Since 2017, he has averaged well under 30 in all completed seasons, scoring only 10 fifties. There were signs of an upswing in the first half of IPL 2021 – 250 runs at 35.71 – but the 34-year-old was still nowhere near his best.
“There’s a need for improvement in his batting. He’s the captain and the Mumbai Indians are winning trophies under him, that’s a different thing. They have a lot of match-winners so his performances don’t get much attention. His most important role in the team is as a batsman… This is a peculiar case. Every time he goes to the IPL he’s in brilliant form in international cricket but fails to convert it during the tournament,” Saba Karim said in an interview on YouTube channel Khelneeti.
Saba Karim, who also doubles up as a talent scout for the Delhi Capitals, explained that the burden of captaincy might have had a toll on Rohit Sharma’s batting. He added:
“I sometimes feel that a player gets consumed too much into captaincy and it’s possible his focus wavers from batting,…If you are a batsman-captain, your first role is to make runs with the bat. Captaincy gets better with the confidence from batting which has happened in Rohit Sharma’s case as well. However, when you have been captaining for a long time, the focus, preparation and temprament you need to have there gets disturbed. You tend to think more as a captain on batting and bowling strategies… It’s very important for a captain to have that clarity when he goes out to bat. I expect to see that change in his batting this time, hopefully it’s not against Delhi Capitals though (chuckles).”
MI are currently placed 4th in the points table with four wins from seven games. Rohit Sharma started the season with some crucial 30s and 40s on the testing wickets in Chennai. He converted one of them to 63 against Punjab Kings but that didn’t help much as the opposition chased the 132-run target easily.
Captaincy responsibilites affecting strike rates of Rohit Sharma and other captains: Saba Karim
Further expounding on captaincy’s potential effect on a player, Saba Karim said most teams’ strategies involve players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul playing the role of an anchor. This, according to him, curbs their freedom and natural instincts, which ultimately hits their strike rate.
“Take the example of KL Rahul, when he opens he knows what type of batsman are in the lower order. The strategies of the coach and captain change completely. KL’s Rahul is expected to play 15-16 overs which makes him take less risk. The same is happening with Rishabh Pant, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli… but it shouldn’t be the case that there is so much difference that the natural character and potential of a player is affected. This is wrong. The team strategy and tactics should be made keeping in mind the team and players both,” Saba Karim concluded.
IPL 2021 will kickstart on September 19 with a bumper clash between MI and the Chennai Super Kings in Dubai.