Ahead of the World Test Championship final, opening batsman Rohit Sharma's weakness against the incoming new ball would be a case study for New Zealand bowlers, especially for left-arm pacer Trent Boult who will lead the Kiwis bowling attack.
The last time India had played in the final of an International Cricket Council (ICC) tournament, the Champions Trophy in 2017, opener Sharma fell to the new ball that came back in sharply trapping him leg-before wicket. The bowler was Pakistan's Mohammad Amir, who had troubled him earlier too in T20 Internationals with the ball that came in.
Amir's success and his recent statement that it is easier to dismiss Sharma than Kohli because the opener struggles against the "in-swinger from a left-armer and as well as against the ball that goes away early on", could be keeping the Kiwis interested.
Former India batsman VVS Laxman on Tuesday touched upon the issue in a press conference, saying: "He has another challenge in the form of Trent Boult who can bring the ball in. He also knows that against Boult, he cannot take his left leg across. These are the two things Rohit needs to address at the start of the innings."
Boult is also Sharma's teammate at Mumbai Indians, so he should would know his weaknesses more than other New Zealand bowlers.
Amir's observation that he can get Sharma out through both deliveries - away going or incoming -- brings into question his technique against the new ball and whether he is aware of his off-stump, which is believed to differentiate between a world class Test batsman from an ordinary one.
Laxman felt Sharma needed to focus on where his off-stump is, and replicate it the way he does on Indian pitches.
"I think, not only for Rohit, but for any opener, it is important to know where your off stump is. Rohit since the time he has opened, the way he played even in the Indian conditions against South Africa, he was very disciplined and he knew where his off-stump was," he said.
"That is something if Rohit can replicate that in the UK, he will perform well. We all know what an unbelievable talented batsman he is; he is a match-winner for the Indian team. Knowing where your off stump is and letting go of the balls outside the off stump is something Rohit requires to focus."
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