Former England captain Michael Vaughan feels that Rohit Sharma needs to take a break from cricket

Team India and Mumbai Indians (MI) skipper Rohit Sharma has been having a torrid run in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 both as a batter and a captain. Following their first seven matches, Mumbai do not have a single win on the board, with the T20 league’s most successful franchise losing each and every match. With their latest loss to the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Mumbai created a dubious record, becoming the first team to lose the first seven matches in an IPL edition. It is a shocking stat, but that can still be put into relevance considering that Mumbai assembled arguably the weakest squad at the auction.

What is really surprising is the manner in which the Hitman has struggled with the willow in hand. After seven matches in IPL 2022, he only has 114 runs to his name at a paltry average of 16.29 and a strike rate of 126.67. He scored 41 in Mumbai’s first match against the Delhi Capitals (DC). This remains his highest score after seven matches. His subsequent scores read – 10, 3, 26, 28, 6 and 0. With his duck against CSK, he now has been dismissed without scoring most times (14) in the IPL. The numbers prove that something is definitely not right with Rohit the batter.

Weak team too much to handle for Rohit?

It is often said that a ‘captain is only as good as his team’. Every word of this clichéd phrase is proving to be true given the current circumstances of MI and Rohit. This is the same captain who led Mumbai to five title wins. But minus Lasith Malinga, Trent Boult, the Pandya brothers and Rahul Chahar, his leadership has been reduced to redundancy. He could have made an impact by leading from the front with the bat. This season was a great opportunity for him to lift his game with the willow.

It, however, seems that Rohit has been burdened by the pressure of captaincy because of the way the team has been performing. When he goes out to bat, it is not purely as a batter, but as a senior pro, who is expected to play the lead role almost every time. The 34-year-old knows the same, and must be trying his best without doubt. However, the way he has been dismissed in the IPL points to the fact that his mind is wandering all over the place. Against CSK, he got out chipping a simple catch to a fielder. Before that, on numerous occasions, he has given his wicket away playing tentative strokes.

With Rohit under the present scenario, it may not be a question of good form or bad form, but over whether he can come to terms with the fact that the current Mumbai squad is not even 25 percent as good as his previous champion outfits. He needs to restructure his batting accordingly and give himself the best chance to succeed. As former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar rightly pointed out during a recent discussion, it doesn’t look as if Rohit is in bad form. It’s just that the runs are not coming. From the outside, it seems like this has something to do with the mental aspect of his game.

All-format captaincy affecting Rohit’s batting?

While his form in the IPL has been poor, it is a fact that Rohit did not go into the T20 league on a high as far as his batting was concerned. Since taking over as full-time captain, he got a few starts, but has not played that big innings for a while. In the Test series against Sri Lanka in February, he had scores of 29, 15 and 46. In the ODIs against the West Indies, he made 60, 5 and 13. Also, in six T20Is against Sri Lanka and West Indies, he had a highest score of 44.

Clearly, the problem with Rohit’s batting began much before his woes in the IPL. The fact that his poor form has coincided with the start of his full-time captaincy stint cannot be ignored. The selectors need to sit and have a frank talk with Rohit to find out if he is finding the workload excessive. No matter how good a leader he is, Rohit the batter is far more precious for India. The ultimate goal of Indian cricket should be to help the Hitman rediscover his batting mojo.

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