Riding high on confidence after the T20I series whitewash of New Zealand, India suffered a major blow when Rohit Sharma was ruled out of the remainder of the tour with a calf injury. Rohit, who has been in fine-form in white-ball cricket, sustained the injury during the fifth and final T20I between India and New Zealand at Bay Oval on Sunday. Speaking on the match eve ahead of the ODI rubber, India captain Virat Kohli has termed Rohit’s injury as ‘unfortunate’ but a blessing in disguise for young talent to show their skill
Kohl said Rohit’s absence doesn’t hamper the team’s preparations as there are not many ODI series lined up in the year of T20 World Cup. “I understand it’s an unfortunate situation that Rohit can’t be a part of this series. When you talk about one-day cricket and T20 cricket and Test cricket now, he’s one guy who’s always on the list first. But the thing is that we don’t have any one-day tournaments to look forward to,” said Kohli.
Rohit had been in stupendous form across formats in 2019. He continued his match-winning efforts first against Australia at home, followed by two fine knocks in the recently concluded T20I series against New Zealand, which India won 5-0.
Mayank Agarwal has been named as Rohit’s replacement in the India squad. He will open the innings with young prodigy Prithvi Shaw in the first ODI against New Zealand in Hamilton.
“It’s if anything an ideal time for him to go away and rectify this as soon as he can and come back. He played the T20I series, so from the team’s balance point of view heading into the World Cup year, it doesn’t really hamper the combination as far as the T20s are concerned,” Kohli further added.
Kohli said injuries to Dhawan and Rohit are a good opportunity for Shaw and Agarwal. “Rohit’s injury is unfortunate but someone who steps in, it’s a chance for that guy to experience this kind of pressure and expectation, and for us to see who are the guys that cope with it. Kane has done it so many times, and you know what he can do.
“So someone who gets the chance, it’ll be an opportunity for the team to see how he copes with that pressure. I see it that way. I see it as an opportunity for others rather than looking at it negatively,” the Indian skipper said.
New Zealand will also be missing Kane Williamson as also pacers Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson. Kohli said ODIs this year are all about opportunities to different players across both sides.
“Quite surprising (that Williamson is missing) because he said he felt better. But I know with the AC joint (left shoulder), I’ve had it as well. Unless you get into the action, it’s very difficult to make a judgement of how much pain you feel. Especially for a batsman, if the shoulder is not right, it can hurt you.”