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IPL 2022: Mental strain of leading India may be taking toll on Rohit Sharma, says Graeme Smith

The mental strain of captaining India in all formats may be taking a toll on Rohit Sharma in IPL 2022, feels former South Africa captain Graeme Smith.

In IPL 2022, Sharma has not been at his best with the bat as an opener, amassing just 80 runs in four matches with an average of 20. In terms of captaincy, Mumbai Indians have had to face four losses in as many matches and now need to defeat Punjab Kings at MCA Stadium on Wednesday to end their winless run in the tournament.

IPL 2022 is also the first season Sharma is captaining Mumbai after taking over as the India skipper across all formats.

“Rohit is the energy at the top of the order. Gets them off to a start, and sets up the game that allows everyone else to play. When he is scoring runs MI is going to win a lot of the time. This is the first tournament he is captaining MI since becoming India’s white-ball captain. Does that mental strain take a toll on the IPL? It’s something to consider,” Smith was quoted as saying by cricket.com.

Smith, currently commentating in IPL, thinks if Sharma finds form, then it makes for a very powerful Mumbai batting line-up. “He’s just such a key player. If you look at the line-up, Rohit, an outstanding player, hasn’t found form. You’ve got Ishan Kishan, and Suryakumar Yadav injured for a couple of games. He has now come in and is looking good and then Pollard as the power finisher. You’ve got Brevis there but he’s a young man. That’s a very strong batting line-up.”

In Mumbai’s all four losses, the batting had some brilliant individual performances but didn’t click as a unit. The same script has panned out for the bowling attack, who have been far from convincing. Smith has called for the inclusion of West Indies all-rounder Fabian Allen, who bowls left-arm spin apart from England’s left-arm pacer Tymal Mills.

“I’ve got for Tymal Mills to try and show some support to Bumrah. I’ve gone for Fabian Allen as well. My reason for that Punjab has a largely right-handed batting line-up and I like the fact he can spin the ball away from them and that will provide Rohit Sharma with another useful option and lengthens the batting line-up slightly.”

Smith signed off by saying that he would still stick with young Brevis and experienced Pollard in the batting line-up. “I’ve picked Brevis at No. 3 or 4, depending on where Suryakumar Yadav is going to bat, just because it’s his third game and deserves a bit of opportunity. I’ve stuck with Pollard. He’s shown glimpses of his power and form. Whether he should come up slightly in the order is another question.”

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