Former Indian cricketers Irfan Pathan and Kris Srikkanth on Sunday weighed in on India's limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma's impact as an opener in one-day international and whether he finds a spot among the greatest of all-time at the position in the format.
Even though he batted thrice early in his career, in 2011 as an opener, Rohit's first big break came ahead of India's victorious 2013 Champions Trophy campaign when the struggling middle-order batsman was asked to move up the order by then-captain MS Dhoni and open for India.
He scored a brilliant 83 against England in Mohali in 2013 in his first appearance as an opener since the advice and then scored back-to-back fifties in the first two matches of the Champions Trophy 2013. He later scored his maiden ODI century en route to an unbeaten 141 off 123 against Australia in Jaipur and finished off the year with a thunderous and record-scripting 209 in Bengaluru against the same opponent.
Since then, it has been a steady upward journey for Rohit, a journey that has seen many records being broken while being compared to some of the all-time great openers. In his nine-year-long illustrious career, Rohit has opened the innings 140 times scoring 7148 runs, the fourth-highest as an Indian and 12th overall. His tally includes 27 hundreds, which is the third-most by any opener in ODI cricket, and three double hundreds, the most by any cricket in ODIs.
The 1983 World Cup-winning player, while speaking on Star Sports' Cricket Connected, explained that Rohit's ability to score big runs as an opener is what adds to his greatness.
"What is the greatest quality in Rohit is that he goes for those big hundreds and double hundreds. That is something amazing. In a one-day match, going for 150, 180, 200, imagine where you are going to take your team to. That is the greatness if Rohit Sharma. He is definitely in the top three or five all-time openers as far as one-day cricket is concerned," Srikkanth said.
Irfan, on the other hand, picked him among the top-three openers of all-time in ODI cricket, placing legends Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag ahead of him. The former all-rounder, however, added that Rohit is yet to finish his career.
"Definitely top three for sure. Everybody has seen Sachin paaji, the biggest legend in world cricket not only Indian cricket. He will always be No. 1. No.2, I thing Sehwag has had a big impact as an opener in one-day cricket. And No.3 is definitley Rohit, and he hasn't finished yet," he said.
Despite standing low in the all-time list as per his run tally, Rohit has the best average (58.11) among all openers who have scored at least 2000 ODI runs.