11 years of Rohit Sharma: A stop-start career that has reached the ODI pinnacle
It was June 2007. India were fresh from a group-stage crashing at the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. The team needed to go back to the drawing board and start afresh. At the same time, it was imperative for India to blood in youngsters as retirements of senior players seemed to be around the corner. One guy who was the beneficiary of this situation was Rohit Sharma. On June 23, 2007, Rohit made his ODI debut against Ireland.
Being blessed with supreme talent, there were very few who could match Rohit in that regard. It was the consistency that was only the issue. For a long time, he found it difficult to master that art. As he completes 11 years in international cricket, let us take a look at how his career has panned out.
The emergence of Rohit Sharma
Like many others, Rohit took his time to establish himself on the international arena. In the early years of his career, he was pretty good with the bat even though he missed out on big hundreds.
In the first 3 years of his ODI career, Rohit scored 695 runs at an average of 25. He had 4 fifties against his name and his highest score was 70. The fact that he had to play as a back-up to senior Indian players meant he was in and out of the side which did not help either.
The fruitful years (2010 and 2011)
The right-hander had announced himself on to the international scene by the start of 2010 and his next aim was to get picked in India's 2011 World Cup squad. After a quiet 3 years, runs started to flow in 2010 as Rohit notched up his maiden ODI hundred, against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo.
His tempo in the next two years went few notches up as he averaged 47 in the 2010-2011 period scoring 1115 runs and 2 centuries.
Despite all the good the performances, Rohit was unlucky to miss out on India's World Cup squad in 2011. He also didn't get a chance to make his Test debut against South Africa in February 2010 as he injured his ankle minutes before the toss.
The decline begins
The 'Hitman' hit the rock-bottom in 2012 after a string of shoddy performances. On the Sri Lanka tour in July 2012, Rohit failed to enter double figures in the entire series and scored only 13 runs.
In the entire 2012, he scored just 168 runs at an average of 12.92 with only one fifty. That was his worst tally in a calendar year in his career but despite all this, Dhoni showed faith in him. He stayed in the side and that was a move that has since reaped rich rewards for India.
The golden years
It wouldn't be amiss to say that Rohit Sharma's career began in 2013. The IPL victory with the Mumbai Indians was a major turnaround that paved the way to reach greater heights in the future.
He was moved up the order and was given the opportunity to open the innings for India during the 2013 Champions Trophy. Since 2013 in ODIs, Rohit Sharma has scored 4616 runs in 94 games at an average of 55. The 15 hundreds during this period also include 3 double-tons which makes him the only player to reach this landmark.
Moving up the order was the best thing that could have ever happened to Rohit Sharma and that has changed the way he looks at the game now.
Not just an ODI star
Rohit Sharma's T20 figures are as good as his ODI numbers. His T20 form has gone few notches up since 2015. His strike-rate, which was 126 till 2014, has gone up to 143 in the next 3 years. In this period he has scored 2 T20I hundreds including the joint-fastest T20 century which came off just 35 balls.
In the Indian Premier League, Rohit has been a veteran for the Mumbai Indians winning three titles for them as a captain. He is also one of the most feared batsmen in the tournament.
Not the best in Tests
Despite all the success that he has enjoyed in the limited-overs formats, he is yet to repeat that in the longest format of the game. After back-to-back hundreds in his first two Tests, it took him 4 years to score his next one. Occasional fifties here and there have helped him attain a modest Test average.
In 25 Tests, Rohit has scored 1,479 runs at an average of nearing 40. However, outside Asia, his performances have been questionable. His 12 Tests in overseas conditions have seen score just 502 runs at a mediocre average of 23. And that has raised question marks over his technique, which many attribute to his poor overseas record in Tests.
At the moment, Rohit Sharma is a long way away from being remembered as a great Test batsman. In fact, after IPL 2018, he even said that he is not worried about his test career anymore.
Plenty of cricket left in him
Having just turned 31, Rohit is only halfway into his career. At this stage of his career, he still has many more years of cricket left in him. He could still push hard and improve his Test record or just focus on what he is good at i.e. ODIs and T20Is. It will be interesting to see how Rohit Sharma approaches the game, 11 years after making his international debut against Ireland.