Individual comparisons are not ideal for team games. However, one cannot stay away from the interesting insights they offer. India had unarguably their best batsman Rahul Dravid playing alongside the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. There is only one great player in front of fans and the media, not two. If one player is not celebrated, it is our loss as cricket fans more than the team.
The story goes the same for the next generation too. Before the 2019 World Cup, Indian ODI side revolved so much around Virat Kohli that we overlooked the hidden genius of Rohit Sharma. Rohit was often the scapegoat in the initial days when team had forgettable outings. The critics will lash at him and slam Dhoni for keeping him in team. But he stepped up when the team required and went back quiet after finishing his job.
Watching Rohit Sharma bat at his fluent best is a blissful experience. The lazy cuts, majestic pulls and lofty hits on the on side paints a picture of class and perfection. With 29 ODI centuries and more to come, the Hitman as we fondly call him has already established himself as one of the masters of the modern game.
What makes this Mumbai cricketer stand out from the rest? Rohit joined the senior side in 2007 when the team was going through a transition following the 2007 T20 World Cup title. In the initial years, he could not capitalise on his opportunities but showed glimpses of his potential. Remember the Commonwealth Bank Series in 2008 when Sachin and the then youngster added a match-winning stand in the final. But, the presence of a well-set top and middle order made him sit on the bench for long and was not part of the 2011 World Cup-winning team.
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A new role
With Sachin and Sehwag’s retirement and Gambhir going through a rough patch, India needed a new opening combination. Shikhar Dhawan grabbed a spot following his aggressive century against the Aussies in 2013. It was Dhoni who suggested Rohit’s name as Dhawan’s opening partner in 2013.
In Champions Trophy tournament, Dhoni’s strategy worked wonders. It was like how Alfred trained Bruce Wayne to discover himself! Rohit amassed runs and proved his skipper right. But the critics kept talking. Like how Bruce Wayne was labelled lazy, Rohit was not spared for ‘lack of intent’ and ‘lazy attitude’. But he answered with the bat. Three double centuries, 29 ODI centuries at an average close to fifty. His record was there to see, and people realized his potential.
Strength to strength
Over the years, Rohit’s stature has grown from strength to strength. In the 2019 World Cup, he was the leading run-scorer with a remarkable 647 runs. He scored five centuries and carried the team through to the semis but had an off day against the Kiwis.
If we look at the numbers, Rohit has an enviable record much like his team-mate Virat Kohli. This journey has had its ups and downs. But the best part is that he stayed hungry when things were not right, and it worked. A World Cup trophy is the next target in Rohit’s bucket list. He will be 36 by the time of the next tournament. Can Rohit extend his glorious run and take the team home? Let us wait and watch.