Bengaluru: Former Australian captain Ian Chappell lauded Indian selectors for promoting Rohit Sharma as a Test opener and said if the move works, it will not only help Indian cricket but also Test cricket.

In the ongoing India-South Africa Test series, Rohit is playing as an opener for the first time in the five-day format. He immediately made an impact as he struck twin centuries (176 and 127) in the first Test in Visakhapatnam.

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India won the opening two Tests to win the series. The third Test starts in Ranchi on October 19.

“The Indian selectors deserve credit for this calculated gamble to resurrect Rohit's career. No doubt their main priority was to help India win Test matches, but the longer form of the game needs every available exciting player,” Chappell wrote on espncricinfo website.

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“Rohit is a very watchable batsman. When I first saw him play his horizontal-bat shots in a 2008 ODI series against Australia, I thought, ‘Boy, this kid can really play.’

“The fact that 11 years later he is still trying to establish himself as a Test batsman is perplexing. However, if this latest move works, it will help not only India but also Test cricket, because, even though he's no longer a kid, Rohit still entertains the fans,” he added.

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According to Chappell, Rohit’s promotion to the top of the order “makes a lot of sense”.

“This move makes a lot of sense. As a one-day opener Rohit has established himself as the next most dangerous batsman to his team-mate Kohli. The move to opening means that he bats ahead of Kohli in Test matches, and this is crucial to revitalising his career in the longer format.

“There appeared to be two things holding Rohit back at Test level: he seemed unsure about what type of player he should be, and at times he seemed overawed by Kohli's glowing presence.

“This was not the fault of the captain; just a result of Kohli's enormous popularity among Indian fans. The raucous response to his appearance at the crease is enough to intimidate the best players,” he said.

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Chappell compared 30-year-old Rohit’s “predicament” with West Indies legends Sir Vivian Richards and Gordon Greenidge.

“Rohit's predicament is one I've witnessed before. Whenever Viv Richards entered the arena, I felt Australia's chances of removing West Indies opener Gordon Greenidge improved. Greenidge was a very fine batsman - he probably never realised how good - but such was Richards' aura that Greenidge appeared to shrink in his presence.

“Batting Rohit ahead of Kohli affords him the opportunity to establish himself before the captain arrives at the crease. This, in turn, diminishes any adverse effect the crowd's infatuation with Kohli is likely to have on Rohit,” Chappell opined.