IPL 2023 – Ravi Shastri to Rohit Sharma – ‘Bat 50 balls, come what may’

IPL 2023 - Ravi Shastri to Rohit Sharma - 'Bat 50 balls, come what may'
If Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma wants to rekindle his IPL batting form, he should bat a minimum of 50 balls to provide heft to an otherwise inexperienced middle order. That is the suggestion from former India head coach Ravi Shastri, who believes Rohit needs to “revisit” his approach in the IPL.

A string of losses in the first half of the season is nothing new for Mumbai, who have lost both their matches before Tuesday’s away contest against Delhi Capitals. Rohit made just 1 in Mumbai’s tournament opener (against Royal Challengers Bangalore) and then 21 in the home match against Chennai Super Kings.

Unlike in international cricket, Rohit the IPL batter has struggled for fluency over the past few years. Since 2021, Rohit has made 671 runs in 29 innings at an average of 23.13 and a strike rate of 123.11 with a solitary half-century. With a cut-off of 500 runs, as of April 11, Rohit ranks third-lowest in terms of average and fifth-lowest on strike rate.

“He’s [Rohit] got to revisit his role,” Shastri said on ESPNcricinfo’s T20 Time:Out on Tuesday. “Think of batting time, think of using that experience because that’s not there in the middle order like before. [Rohit has to] relook at how approaches his batting over a period of time. In the sense that if he wants to he can go a little hard in the first 3-4 overs, but he’s also got to think of batting and staying there till the 14th or 15th [over] to get that 70. He’s got to think 70, and at a good strike rate.”

In the past, Rohit has attempted to play the aggressor but found limited success. He has also tried to anchor the innings, but once again not satisfactorily. Shastri has a “simple” solution. “A simple way of doing it is [to] think: “I’m going to bat 50 balls, come what may.” Don’t think overs, think balls – “I want to play 50 balls. If I play 50, I think my team is in a good position.” So he’s going to challenge himself and look to play those 50 balls.”

This season is Rohit’s tenth as Mumbai’s captain. Under him, they have won the IPL five times, the last one coming in 2020. Only once, in 2013, has Rohit managed a season aggregate of 500-plus runs. Rohit has also occupied different positions before playing exclusively as an opener since 2019.

Shastri felt Rohit was suitable at the top of the order but has to guide a batting order that remains inexperienced barring Suryakumar Yadav.

“Rohit Sharma mentioned at the presentation in the last game that it’s time for the senior players to take the responsibility and take the mantle in their own hands, including himself. He said that because we’ve seen too many 20s, 30s from Rohit. You want him to carry on, get that 70-80 which can have a huge impact in the way Mumbai Indians perform, because a captain scoring runs will not just make his job easier but it will lift the spirit of that dugout very quickly. So for Rohit to fire, I think it’s very important.”

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