On the 3rd day of second Test between India and New Zealand at the Eden Gardens last year in October, the Virat Kohli-led unit side found itself in trouble after losing 4 wickets with just 43 runs on the board. Kiwi fast bowlers Matt Henry and Trent Boult had dismantled Indian openers after New Zealand put 204 runs on the board in the first innings. On a crumbling pitch, that was offering turn, India needed someone drop anchor and hold the innings together after a dismal start. And, Rohit Sharma walked out to the middle.
Sharma’s record at Eden Gardens has been phenomenal over the years. The right-handed batsmen scored his first Test century at the stadium in his debut against West Indies in 2013. He also scored the highest individual ODI score of 264 against Sri Lanka at the same venue. The Mumbai Indians captain also scored his maiden IPL century against Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 on the same ground. A lot was expected from Sharma, who is yet to create a space for himself in the Test XI, and he delivered.
Sharma went on to score 82 runs and stitched a 103-run partnership with wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha, taking India out of trouble. India eventually went on to register a win in the game, with Sharma, becoming the saviour for his side.
Cut to present
In spite of solid record at Eden Gardens, when India will face off against Sri Lanka in Kolkata, Rohit Sharma is not a name likely to be included in the squad. India are likely to play five bowlers – three quicks and two spinners – and fielding an extra batsman could be difficult for the hosts.
With five places secured by the bowling line-up, Indian skipper Virat Kohli will look to boost its middle order with in-form batsmen Ajinkya Rahane, who has more Test cricket experience than Sharma, and Cheteshwar Pujara, who recently scored his 12th first-class cricket double century and looks to be in supreme touch. Wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha will also feature in the middle-order and it leaves no space for Sharma. India need to make a call for the opening slot as all three – Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Murali Vijay – are in good touch.
With India’s batting line-up featuring some in-form stalwarts, Sharma seems like an unlikely candidate to feature in the first Test at Eden Gardens.