From reckless to dependable: The transformation of Rohit Sharma
He watches the bowler run in from a distance. The face in inconsequential, his eyes are on the white ball, the seam, the shining side. Everything around goes blank. He makes out the shining side is on the right side. He knows it is an out swinger. The ball is about 26 yards away from him. It is time for him to make his move. A slight shuffle of his back leg, his trigger movement and he is in line with the stumps. Then comes the back lift, towards first slip, his eyes still on the ball. The ball is airborne, he sees it swirl towards him. He knows what needs to be done. Million times he has done this in the nets, the memory is imprinted in each of his cell. As the ball threatens to curve away from him he moves his foot forward, bends his back knee and down comes the bat smashing the leather out of the ball. He finishes the shot with a pose for the cameramen. When he scores, it inevitably is beautiful.
If there ever is a batsman in world cricket who could display the two most extremes of batting it is undeniably Rohit Sharma. When what he does comes of, he is the most elegant and graceful batsman but when it does not, he is just lazy and reckless.
Reckless is something that has been always associated with him but his growth in one day cricket in the recent couple of years has been nothing short of phenomenal. As a batsman his numbers are only second to Virat Kohli among Indian batsmen and that in itself is a testament to his rise in limited overs cricket.
He has invariably got runs against different attacks all over the world, that too under pressure situations. He in turn has turned out to be a more dependable player under any circumstances and conditions.
The recent Sri Lanka series has definitely given a glimpse of his ability to win matches all alone. It is safe to say now that from a reckless middle order batsman to a giant of an opening batsman, the transformation is complete.
He came back to professional cricket in the IPL of 2017 after a long break due to injury and one could see the hunger in him to score runs.
Although he had an indifferent IPL 2017, he managed to score 333 runs in 16 games. But what stood out during the tournament was his will to grind it out.
He was not the flamboyant Rohit we all were accustomed to, but the one who wanted to stay till the end to finish games. Leading Mumbai for the past three years might have played a role in his maturity which can be seen on how much value he put on his wicket.
Then came the Champions Trophy in England where he was the fulcrum of Indian batting scoring a hundred and 2 fifties in 5 games returning with an impressive aggregate of 304 runs at 76.
Although the pitches were flat and batting was easy, scoring runs in England must have given a huge boost to his confidence. Come the world cup in 2019 and he surely will have happy memories of the place. He also had a wonderful tour of Sri Lanka were he scored big under pressure as well as finished matches.
The two hundreds he scored at Pallekele and Colombo were as contrasting as it gets showing the vast variety in his game.
Rohit Sharma the middle order batsman had an average in the mid twenties whereas Rohit sharma the opening batsman averages in the mid forties. The increase is massive and the only justification to this is the emergence of a much more mature batsman.
His ability to hit sixes was never in question but the brainfade moments he produced for too regularly for anybodies liking was his greatest undoing. Now that the so called brainfade moments have been far and few, one gets the sense of calmness in his batting. He definetly has learned to put a price on his wickets and thus the results are just showing.
30 now, he has a good 7-8 years of cricket left in him provided he remains fit. If that is the case, it is easier to assume that the best of Rohit Sharma is yet to be seen.
As India embark on their journey towards the 2019 world cup Rohit Sharma along with Virat Kohli form the center piece of the Indian batting line up. For the spectators however, his batting would be beautiful and easy as long as he plays. The spectators, the batting lovers would definetly hope that the best of Rohit Sharma is yet to be seen.