Former Aussie batsman Dean Jones is of the opinion that despite the rare talent of Rohit Sharma, his poor defensive skills are letting him down in the longest format of the game. Apart from skipper Virat Kohli none of the Indian batsmen has got going which has eventually resulted in a 2-0 scoreline in favour of the Proteas with a match still to go.

Sharma who was picked for the first two Tests ahead of regular vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane by current form failed to justify his spot in the side scoring just 78 runs in 4 innings.

“I look at him and he is technically sound. But the first thing that goes wrong in your game is your defense, and his (Sharma’s) defensive skills are letting him down,” Jones was quoted as saying by PTI.

“In Test cricket, 70 percent of batting is about your defense and in one-dayers, it is 40 percent. So his defensive skills are letting him down. He has got to take pride in his defensive skills like Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and even Virat Kohli,” he further added.

South Africa Vs India, Rohit Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Cheteshwar Pujara
South Africa Vs India: Rohit was the sole wicket of the first session on day two in Cape Town. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Sharma had scored his 3rd ODI double century and the joint fastest T20I century against Sri Lanka just before the tour of South Africa. By current form, he was selected ahead of Rahane. Jones further said that India needed a tough and gruelling tour like South Africa to sort out their selection woes.

“You need to have these kind of tours to sort out your composition, to find out whether they are good enough or not. So maybe there has been too much reliance on his (Sharma’s) ODI form but all in all you have to have a series like this to find out if they are good enough.

“If he misses out in the next series, Ravi (Shastri) and Kohli can say ‘we gave you the opportunity’,” said Jones.

Former Indian skippers Ajit Wadekar and Bishen Singh Bedi reasoned India’s surrender due to the lack of preparations. Jones, however, had a different logic.

“The modern-day schedules are such that often there is no time for a warm-up game. But why should you only rely on that? I have spoken to the likes of VVS Laxman, who tells me he, Dravid and Tendulkar used to start preparing three months before touring Australia.

Rohit Sharma
Nagpur: India’s Rohit Sharma plays a shot during Day 3 of the 2nd cricket test match against Sri Lanka in Nagpur on Sunday. PTI Photo by Shashank Parade (PTI11_26_2017_000107A)

“Dealing with the bouncing ball and so on. So the players have got to take the responsibility individually (when it comes to preparation),” said Jones.

He further said that this is not the correct time to judge the current Indian team which is slated to tour England and Australia later in the year.

“I think the structuring of the series (with no warm-up games) is such that once you lose the first Test, it is very tough to come back. You don’t have many teams winning overseas anyway. I was researching on this, probably South Africa is the only team which has done well overseas in the past 10-15 years.

“You can be a hit harsh but it (series loss in SA) is not the be all and end all. No doubt Kohli and Ravi would have wanted things to go a bit better. South Africa is a hard place to win in. Australia has won on their last two tours there.”

Jones further said that the England tour is expected to be one of the toughest for India as the pitches in Australia has become flat.

“Kohli can only make so many runs, you need other players to stand up. England tour is going to be interesting. There are some question marks about the guys’ techniques. They can play well. Like Tendulkar and Dravid, you got guys like Rahane and Pujara who stay side on and watch the ball late.

“And you got bowlers now who can bowl over 140 kmph and swing the ball. So I would like to judge this Indian team by how they do over the next two-three years. They have had just one bad tour,” opined Jones.

When asked about his favourite modern day batsman he said that Kohli is his favourite batsman, however, Smith is a genius and his numbers are simply sensational. While Kohli averages 53.51, Smith boats of a staggering average of 63.75

“His (Smith’s) numbers are better and he is different. All the greats are genius and they are different. Bradman was different, he played with split grips and so do Kohli and Smith. You don’t teach them how to play with split grips.

“Smith reads the length better than most, he has got an eye like a dead fish. How do you teach that? And my favourite Kohli is bringing in the traditional style of play in all three formats but Smith is different. It is okay to be different,” he signed off.

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