Dubai: It’s time people stopped questioning the worth of Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin as Test players.
Many, without any hesitation, comment that they don’t deserve to be in the Test squad despite being two of the most skilful players and having won many matches over the years.
Sharma, who played stupendous knocks in One Day Internationals, was labelled unworthy to open the innings in Test matches.
It took him 27 Test matches to be considered as a Test opener, and he finally got the opportunity at the age of 32.
He then proved all his critics wrong by hitting 176 and 127 against South Africa in the Visakhapatnam Test match, forcing many of the armchair critics to swallow their so called ‘expert opinions’.
Similarly, Ashwin, who took eight South African wickets in the Visakhapatnam Test match, was considered not worthy to be in the squad.
To sideline him saying that he does not fit into the team plan was easy.
On the numerous occasions that I have interviewed him, his standard request was not to ask him about his omission from the Indian team.
Some criticised him as a bowler who was losing his abilities, while some said that he was good on particular type of wickets only.
Like Sharma, who was labelled a questionable Test player and as a batsman with a problem against moving balls, the criticisms against Ashwin too got stuck.
Test cricket puts to test the temperament of a batsman, and Sharma has shown that he has it in plenty by stunning everyone with five centuries in the World Cup.
It is appalling how Sharma, soon after his World Cup form, could be made to sit out during the Test matches in West Indies.
This only goes to show that once a judgement is made on a cricketer by a few, that gets stuck.
Similarly, Ashwin bagged 342 wickets from 65 Test matches before the Visakhapatnam Test match.
If he was not worthy of a place in the Test squad, how could he have taken so many wickets? To take over 300 wickets in a Test match requires skills, and they need to be exceptional.
Sharma demonstrated the hunger for runs in him, and that is why he became the first batsman to score two hundreds in his first Test as an opener.
The 303 runs he made in this Test are also the most by a batsman opening for the first time.
Will this finally silence his critics, or will they now go on to say that he will not be successful on wickets outside India?
Cricketers like Sharma and Ashwin should never be ignored unless they slip out of form. They are extraordinary cricketers who should not be made prey to unjustifiable observations.