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India's tour to Aus: Rohit's first-ball duck adds to controversy

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Dubai, Nov 5 (IANS) Mumbai Indians (MI) skipper Rohit Sharma was dismissed on the first ball during Thursday’s Qualifier 1 game against Delhi Capitals (DC), giving ammunition to those in the Indian team management who want him to prove his fitness.

After Sharma’s duck on Thursday, people have started asking a question, though not openly as yet: Was it his injury or his lack of form that was the basis of his non-selection in any of the three Indian teams — Test, ODI, and T20 — for the upcoming tour of Australia?

Sharma’s sequence of scores in this IPL is: 0, 4, 9, 35, 5, 35, 6, 70, 8, 80, and 12 — a total of 264, scored at an average of 24 and at a strike rate of 126.31, in 11 matches.

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But Sharma’s overall IPL figures are decent enough. Overall, in 199 matches, he has amassed 5,162 runs, scored at at an average of 31.09 and a strike rate of 130.58. He has hit 38 half-centuries and one century.

On Thursday, Sharma was out leg-before off the bowling of R Ashwin, in the second over of the match, as the ball spun sharply into him and he was glued to the crease. This was his second match after his return from the hamstring injury that is being cited as the reason for him being dropped from the Indian teams for this month’s Australia tour.

Sharma, who missed four matches as he rested his hamstring, had returned in the last match against SunRisers Hyderabad. He was, however, dismissed early but led the team on the field as MI crashed to 10-wicket win.

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The opening batsman said after the match that he was fit even though BCCI president Sourav Ganguly was quoted as saying in the media the same day that Sharma was unfit — and, by inference, the reason for his axing. India coach Ravi Shastri had earlier echoed Ganguly, saying Sharma was unfit.

Sharma’s franchise, however, backed him and said that the injury was a niggle and the rest was more of a precautionary measure.

The right-handed opening batsman, who is second behind Virat Kohli in ODI run-getters’ list among current Indian players has been the most successful of IPL team captain, leading his side to four title triumphs.

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Due to Sharma’s success in the IPL, his inputs on captaincy could have been useful Down Under.

In contrast, despite being India’s most successful batsman in limited-overs cricket, Kohli has failed to win even a single IPL title while with RCB for 13 seasons. Kohli has also failed to win an ICC event, prompting former internationals like Ajit Agarkar and Atul Wassan to say recently that Sharma should be picked to lead the Indian T20I team.

This is probably the first time in recent times that captaincy options revolve around Delhi and Mumbai players. While the Delhi-bred Kohli is India skipper in all three formats, Mumbaikars Ajinkya Rahane and Sharma are his deputy across the three formats. Sharma was his deputy in shorter formats before the squads for Asutralia were picked while Rahane is still his deputy in Tests.

Back in 1970s and in 1980s, there was a massive rivalry between Delhi and Mumbai players for captaincy that left a bitter taste, with Bishan Singh Bedi and Ajit Wadekar the leading and successful players of Delhi and Mumbai respectively.

–IANS

kh/qma

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