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Virat Kohli backs Rohit Sharma for number three slot

Rohit Sharma will be batting at number three for India in the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka.
Rohit Sharma will be batting at number three for India in the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka.
©REUTERS / Action Images

India's Test captain Virat Kohli has maintained that Rohit Sharma will be batting at the number three slot for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

Sharma’s promotion to opening the batting triggered an incredible turnaround in his One-Day International career and Kohli is hoping that this elevation in Tests also serves the same purpose.

“We figured out that Rohit is an impact player," said Kohli.

“In one-day cricket, he bats up the order, and he had a different aspect when it came to Test cricket, as he is batting at number five...at siix actually.

“It was off the kind of setup he had played in one-day cricket.”

The number three slot in Tests is of prime importance with the batsman in charge responsible for setting up the tempo of the innings and Kohli is banking on Rohit to set the platform for India’s middle order.

“We felt that if he gets going, even in a Test match, he can take away a session or two from the opposition.

“That could be the difference in us winning a Test match and getting close (but not close enough).”

The move to send Rohit up to the number three slot was tried out for the first time against Australia in Sydney. 

Although Rohit failed to make big scores, he looked solid during his stay in the middle as batted for nearly three hours in the first innings followed by a 102-minute stay in the second innings.

His gritty display in Sydney certainly impressed Kohli with the Indian skipper exuding confidence in his teammate's abilities.

“He had done well at number three in Australia and I think he needs more time there.

“Once he settles down there, he could be the catalyst in the middle order to keep the score ticking.

“He is so naturally gifted that we want to give him the opportunity to get us that big score, and in quick time.

“He doesn’t take much time to score, and that would give us the extra 20-30 overs to bowl (the opposition out later).”

Kohli also stated that this decision had also pleased Rohit who seems glad to be given a stable batting position in the top order.

“He is pretty happy (with the move) as well.

“Being in the dressing room for long is something he is not used to in one-day cricket, and hence going into the action straightaway, more often than not, will help.

“That’s all we need, players being happy with the positions they would be in.”

Sharma also seemed very happy at the new challenge dished out to him by the team management and he seemed excited at the task at hand.

After going through a phase of insecurity regarding his position in the Test side, Rohit is glad that finally he has a stable place in the team.

“I’m someone who has so far been asked to bat in different positions, and have done that without any issue.

“But it is true that in one-dayers I have established my position as an opener.

“In Tests it (a secured position) hasn’t happened so far.”

Although he has traditionally done well at number four especially in the domestic circuit, he knows that he will have to bat a slot higher with Kohli taking that slot.

Explaining the strategy to promote him to the number three slot, Rohit reveals that the plan is to be a counter-attacking batsman who can set the pace of the innings.

“Now I have been told that they want someone to dominate at number three.

“That was one of the reasons given to me when I was asked to bat at number three.

“Middle order is where I have always batted, number four in fact.

“That is where I have played for Mumbai over the years.

“But now we have a scenario where the captain (Kohli) himself is at number four, so we have to adjust.”

After an amazing start to his Test career with centuries in his first two innings, Rohit has subsequently managed only two fifties from his next 17 innings.

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