Rohit Sharma opens up a new opportunity in his career

He is now the only Indian batsman to have scored a hundred as an opener in all three formats of the game.

Photo: BCCI

Rohit Sharma was prepared to open the innings for India in Test cricket for the last two years, aware that he would have to take up the challenge at some stage of his career.

And when he got the opportunity in the first match against South Africa at Visakhapatnam on Wednesday, he grabbed it with both hands.

"When you are playing international cricket, you always look for opportunities," he said. "This is a great opportunity for me.

"When you start the innings for the team, there is so much positivity and there is a feel good factor. The opportunity presented itself and I wanted to take that opportunity."

Six years after he made his maiden Test match appearance with a century on debut, he began his opening stint in the format with a ton as well.

He is now the only Indian batsman to have scored a hundred as an opener in all three formats of the game.

"Of course, opening the batting is a different ball game in red ball cricket," he pointed out. "Mentally you have to train your mind more than anything else.

"At the same time, you do need to look into some technical aspects of batting but more than that you have to challenge yourself mentally to play the new ball and take the game forward. Those are the things I kept in mind when I went out to bat."

Focusing on the basics

Sharma forged a 317-run partnership with Mayank Agarwal and eventually fell one short of his Test best at 176, taking 244 balls at a brisk strike rate of 72.13. The 32-year-old Sharma, an ARCS Andheri pick in the inaugural season of T20 Mumbai, hit 23 fours and 6 sixes in his innings.

"I think (opening) just suits my game, just wear the pads and bat," he added. "It was a waiting game, when I used to bat at five or six. I won't say it didn't suit my batting. Your mind is fresh, we know we have to play the new ball. You know the bowlers who will bowl the new ball, these will be the fielders, so the game plan is easier for you.

"At number six, the ball is reversing, field placement is different and you need to keep all those things in mind. That game of wearing the pads and going in to bat suits me more.

"The red ball moves for a longer period of time and it will possess a lot of threat. In any conditions, the first few overs, the ball will do something. I was just focusing on the basics, playing close to the body and leaving the ball.

"We have played so much cricket in India. I know what happens after 7-8 overs once the shine is gone. It does not swing much thereafter. And from there on it is about taking the game forward."

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