Rohit Sharma, who was named in India's ICC Champions Trophy squad, has displayed patchy form in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The Mumbai Indians skipper walked straight back into India's ODI side after spending considerable time on the sidelines due to an injury. While the stylish right-hander has struggled in the Test arena, there's no denying his pedigree in limited-overs cricket. Yet, former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin feels Rohit will find it hard to score big runs in his role as opener during the Champions Trophy in England.
"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 was quoted as saying by DNA.
"I'll advise him to get used to the opening spot. It won't be easy to open straightaway because the conditions are different (in the UK). He's coming back after an injury. All this will play on his mind," Azhar added.
Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, India's first choice opening batting combination, were vital cogs in the team's title-winning run in the last edition of the tournament.
"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," Azhar added.
However, both Sharma and Dhawan have not enjoyed great success in recent times. Sharma has accumulated just 283 runs in 15 IPL matches at an average of 23.58 this term. The 30-year-old notched up his last ODI ton in on January 15, 2016.
Sharma has always enjoyed the backing of India captains. From MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli, the Mumbai lad has been offered that added security due to his sheer batting prowess.
However with the likes of Rishabh Pant knocking on the Team India door, Sharma will have to play to his full potential in the Champions Trophy to justify his spot in the side in the long run.