Former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan said Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and that’s what makes them a successful opening pair in the limited-overs format of the game.
Irfan Pathan, speaking to Star Sports on Cricket Connected show, said Dhawan understands that Rohit takes his time to get going at the start and takes charge while the vice-captain relieves Dhawan off pressure once he settles down.
Dhawan and Rohit partnered for India as openers for the first time at the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 and made an immediate impact in India’s title-winning run. Dhawan and Rohit are at the 4th spot on the list of opening pairs with most runs in ODIs with 4802 runs and second on the Indian list behind Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly who amassed 6609 runs.
“We know Shikhar plays very freely. He gives time to Rohit Sharma. We all know how Rohit Sharma is able to change gears very quickly, but he takes time early on. In cricket, you need someone at the other end to understand your strengths and weaknesses.
“Shikhar understands when Rohit Sharma needs time, for at least a few overs to get himself going. So, he used to take the charge and I think that’s what makes him successful.
“And as soon as the spinners came and Rohit Sharma got settled, he took all the pressure away from Shikhar Dhawan, so that’s why the whole camaraderie really, really went on well for Team India for so many years,” Irfan Pathan said.
Over the last 7 years, Rohit and Dhawan have been involved in many memorable match-winning stands.
In a recent interaction with Australia batsman David Warner, Rohit revealed how he got used to Dhawan’s habit of not taking the strike in the very first ball of the innings over the years.
“I remember way back in 2013 when I started opening for India in limited-overs. It was my first game as an opener in the Champions Trophy. So I told him to take the strike as I had not faced the bowlers with the new ball. And he was like, no ‘Rohit, you have been playing for a while this is my first tour’. And I said I mean the guy who is a regular opener does not want to take the strike.”
“Then I took the strike and Morne Morkel was bowling and I did not see the first three balls because I was not expecting the bounce. That was my first experience with Shikhar, but now I am comfortable with him,” Rohit had said.