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Tanuj Khosla
Saturday , February 25, 2012 at 08 : 35

Crunch time for Rohit Sharma


Let me begin with a confession - I am a big fan of Rohit Sharma. When on song, he makes batting look effortless and bowling attacks appear mediocre. When it's his day, you can see why many experts had marked out Rohit as a future Indian star early in his career.

Rohit has neither the grit and aggression of Virat Kohli nor the dogged determination of Suresh Raina, which is probably the reason why he has been an underachiever compared to them despite being arguably more talented.

Regular readers of my blog frequently mail or tweet me the batting exploits of Manoj Tiwary and S Badrinath while asking me to reconsider my opinion of Rohit. They are not completely wrong. Talent can take you to the top but it is temperament and tenacity that shall keep you there. Tiwary and Badrinath may be less flamboyant than Rohit but definitely seem to be more focused cricketers on the field.

To be fair to Rohit, he has had his share of bad luck. In February 2010 he came close to playing his first Test against South Africa in Nagpur but a freak ankle injury while kicking a football before the toss put a hold on his debut in the traditional format of the game. It has been almost two years since then and he's yet make his debut. He was a part of India's Test squad to Australia but didn't feature in any of the four matches.

He was prolific in the ODI series in the West Indies last year and played a few match-winning knocks in crunch situations. His performance in that series convinced most people that he has discarded the label of 'lazy' that many 'experts' had stuck on him and is hungrier for runs more than ever before. Personally, I still believe that. I think that the pain of not being included in the World Cup squad last year has made Rohit a better and more mature cricketer.

However, not everyone agrees with me. Rohit has lost quite a number of fans after his showing in the on-going CB Series during which he has batted at the crucial No. 4 position. He has failed to make any contribution of note. However, what is most disconcerting is the manner in which he has gotten out after getting a start - playing a risky shot that was not needed at that moment. On the basis of his performance in this tournament, I don't foresee Rohit being a part of the batting line-up if India makes it to the finals and MS Dhoni decides to play his best XI.

In the world of investing, we are periodically reminded to keep emotions out of our decisions. I can't invest in a company simply because I 'like' it even though its earnings are dropping continuously. Similarly, the selectors can't continue to favour Rohit if he fails to deliver over an extended period of time just because he looks the part. They made the same mistake with Murali Vijay and might have smarted from that.

To draw an analogy, Rohit is a bit like an undervalued stock at the moment - seems to have great potential but that may or may not translate into positive results in the future. If Rohit continues to fail or not capitalize on starts in the next few outings, then selectors shall have to make a choice - should they speculate on him like a trader or make a rational call and cut their losses like a portfolio manager. This is always a tough decision. I wish the Rohit and the selectors good luck.


More about Tanuj Khosla

Tanuj is an MBA by qualification and currently works at a hedge fund in Singapore. Prior to this he was a banker in India. Tanuj has written guest columns for finance journals like CNBC, The Asset, The Hedge Fund Journal, Institutional Investor, Risk.net etc. in the past and was also a regular columnist with The Wall Street Journal. He can be followed on Twitter @Tanuj_Khosla. Alternatively he can be reached at khosla.tanuj@gmail.com.