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‘Hardest Place to Bat’ - Rohit Sharma On Tough South African Challenge Ahead of Boxing Day Test

image-lqks3mtsRohit Sharma is back in whites. (AP)

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said that South Africa is the most challenging place to bat, and for a batter, it's always a challenging experience to play cricket in that country. He also said that he looks forward to embracing the challenge.

The 36-year-old is set to lead India in a Test series in South Africa for the first time, aiming to conquer what is being termed as the 'final frontier'. Despite near misses in recent series, India has never secured a Test series victory in South Africa. Rohit, who missed the 2021/22 tour due to injury, is keen on making history as he returns to the field.

While Rohit's first exposure to South Africa dates back to the 2007 T20 World Cup, his first comprehensive tour occurred in 2013 for a three-match ODI series and a two-match Test series. In the four Tests he played in South Africa, he averaged 15.38 in eight innings, primarily batting in the middle-order during the 2013 and 2018 tours. 

However, in recent years, Rohit has transitioned to opening in Tests, which has really helped him improve his Test record, especially away from home.

Acknowledging the batting challenges in South Africa, Rohit expressed his eagerness to face them on the eve of the match.

“As a batter it's always a challenge here in South Africa. It's the hardest place to bat. I look forward to the challenge,”  said Rohit Sharma on the eve of the match.

Despite a modest average on South African soil, Rohit's overall record against the Proteas is commendable. In nine Tests, he has amassed 678 runs at an average of 42.37, including three centuries. His highest Test score against South Africa came in Ranchi in October 2019, scoring an impressive 212.

Notably, Rohit has been in terrific form with the bat in the red-ball cricket this year, boasting an average of 49.09 in seven games, featuring two centuries and two half-centuries. As the team faces its biggest test on South African soil, Rohit Sharma's performance could play a crucial role in India's quest for a Test series win.

Considering his successful outings in Australia and England, there is growing expectation that Rohit will better his record in South Africa in the upcoming Test series. For India to secure their first Test series victory in South Africa, Rohit must step up and lead the way with the bat.

The first Test, beginning on December 26 at the SuperSport Park Cricket Stadium in Centurion, marks Rohit's return to the Indian side since the World Cup final against Australia on November 19, 2023, where India suffered a heartbreaking six-wicket defeat.