India vs Australia 2013: The unfulfilled promise of Rohit Sharma


Hopefully for Rohit’s and India’s future, the innings in Jaipur will signal a change in fortunes for the elegant Mumbaikar

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are very different cricketers. In the epic chase in the 2nd ODI, both were close to their best and scripted a story which took a long time to come against Australia.

They bat with contrasting styles, and over the past few years, contrasting have been their career graphs in international cricket.

Where Kohli has been going bonkers irrespective of the opponent or venue, Rohit has emerged from some extremely dismal performances over the past few years.

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Statistics provide a perfect reflection of the path they have traversed so far. Kohli, in 115 ODIs, has scored 16 centuries at an average of 50.92. Sharma, on the other hand, managed only his 3rd century yesterday in 104 ODIs, having scored at an average of 34.26 so far.

It’s not just in the statistics, but the way they play their cricket which makes them so different.

While the power in Kohli’s shots is visible on the telly, Rohit’s buttery smooth strokes rekindle that joy of watching cricket all over again, however numerous be the memories when his shot selection resulted in utter frustration.

Kohli’s passion and aggression is contagious and charges up the fans with every ball he murders to the fence.

Meanwhile, Rohit’s flow of arms, which sends the ball into a gorgeous arc over the ground or skimming on the top of the grass, is something which disarms the fans, leaving them craving for more of such magic.

But for Rohit’s good, and for India’s growth overall, it’s important that the contrast here-on remains only in the way they play on the field, and by no means is it a suggestion that their numbers in future reflect Rohit’s career so far.

The thing with ‘lazy’ elegance is that it can so easily be looked upon as a sign of disinterest on the part of the cricketer, a thinking that the batsman has probably not committed himself to scoring runs. It’s an opinion based on watching his innings over the years, and only he and people in his close circles can be sure about how true that has been in his career till now.

However funny the trolls on Rohit Gurunath Sharma be, failures of the ‘Maggi man’ have been a source of grief for those who know how good he can be.

It’s a societal trait that we respect talent in our country. So much so that sometimes lapses in performance are overlooked, with people having decision making power trusting their ‘gut instinct’ and backing the talent as long as they can.

And we’ve seen the transformation happen in the case of Ravindra Jadeja. Backed by his captain and ridiculed by the masses, Jadeja’s return to international cricket has been nothing short of spectacular in the past year or two.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that if Rohit Sharma is able to script a similar comeback, he’ll be one of the best batsmen in the world.

It’s hard to keep out the ridicule, however isolated one tries to become from the outside world, and Rohit Sharma would hopefully be in a very different frame of mind after yesterday’s knock. After over 3 years of not having scored a hundred, this knock would come as a massive relief for the Mumbaikar.

“I think more than me, you guys were getting frustrated that I wasn’t getting a hundred. I can see quite a few smiles here, and that really feels heartening.”

Rohit Sharma’s body language in the press conference after the match was a sign of the confidence that is much needed in making those huge shifts in one’s career trajectory.

And sometimes, it’s that shift in mindset, a change in the way you perceive praise and ridicule, the self-analysis, that makes mountains move.

For Rohit Sharma and Indian cricket, the wait has been extremely long and much frustrating.

But if what follows are those glorious pulls, the kind that you watch on repeat mode on YouTube, or those silken drives that are best enjoyed in real-time more than slow-mo replays, or that graceful fall of arms which sends the ball soaring high in the air and over the ropes, it would have been totally worth it.

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Nayyar Abdul Rasheed
Cricket Analyst
An engineer-no-more, who wishes to ‘study’ cricket forever.
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