Can Rohit Sharma continue his roller-coaster run at Brisbane?
Rohit Sharma started off his Australia tour with a blaze but can he sustain the momentum?
India may have lost the opening match of 5-match ODI series against Australia at the WACA in Perth on Tuesday, but the game had its fair share of positives for the visitors, especially in the batting department.
While Virat Kohli improved his woeful average against Australia in coloured clothing significantly, by scoring a 97-ball 91 but the bigger impact with the willow was made by Rohit Sharma, who slammed his way to 171 off 163 balls that included 13 fours and 6 sixes.
It was the Mumbai batsman’s second ton against Australia in their own backyard and his third overall in the country. The impressive aspect about all the three hundreds has been his ability to convert them into big ones. Each of the three tons are scores in excess of 125 and this is a reflection of a player who likes to just not be happy with reaching the 100-mark, but someone who likes to tee off after reaching the landmark.
But what happens to him after that?
There is no questioning the fact that when any player walks into the middle after having put in a superlative performance, either with bat or ball, he is confident of performing up to the same level if not putting in the same exploits on the field.
However, it seems with Rohit, that isn't the case. Consider the match against Australia in Jaipur in 2013. India was chasing a monumental 360 in 50 overs and Rohit scored a 123-ball 141 and in partnership, first with Shikhar Dhawan and later Virat Kohli, helped his side chase it down in 43.1 overs.
Any player, who scores a big hundred like that would surely be hoping to carry on from where he had left off but not Rohit. In the following ODI in Mohali, the right-hander was dismissed for 11 after he top-edged a Shane Watson delivery to Brad Haddin.
Another example where something similar happened with him was after his mind-boggling 264 against Sri Lanka in Kolkata. It was an effort that anybody who watched via any source, anywhere in the world would never forget.
But in the very next game, he got out trying to pull a ball that wasn't short enough for 9 when the team had banked on him to give them a good start in their chase of 287 in Ranchi.
A more recent example came in the ODI series against South Africa at home. After a superb 150 in Kanpur, Rohit was clean bowled by Kagiso Rabada for 3 in the second over of the innings in Indore thereby exposing Kohli and the rest to the new ball.
Get the mind sorted Rohit!
It is often said as much as this game is about your performances on the field, it is also about what happens in between your ears. Kohli famously spoke about it when he played a stellar role in India chasing down 320 in under 40 overs to gain the bonus point against Sri Lanka in Hobart in 2012.
He said he thought about it as two T20 matches- with 160 required in either halfs and that provided him with the clarity to pace his innings accordingly, rather than trying to knock the cover of every ball thereby causing hara-kiri in the middle.
This is an aspect of his game where Rohit has some work to do. There are obviously the much used cliches in cricket like “Its a new day” or “You begin from zero the next day”. But most importantly, the right-hander must understand that the bowler is always ready with something new to offer to the batsman in the next match.
No innings by a batsman is ever flawless. It may be chanceless, but it is never short of phases where he struggles to cope with a certain kind of delivery or length. This is something that Rohit needs to understand and accordingly adjust.
To think that he can enter into any arena and own it as if it’s his from ball one just because he has tasted success in the previous match is definitely not the right way to go. His importance in the present batting order has increased further, particularly with no Suresh Raina in the middle order.
So, there is an added pressure on him to fire consistently. It is also his biggest opportunity to become a batsman who delivers more frequently, is more dependable and in the process- realise his true potential once-and-for-all.