Rohit Sharma: The persistent captain
Rohit Sharma, the first man on the planet to score three one-day international double hundreds, has stood out to be one of the consistent performers for the country in recent times.
The cleanest hitter of the ball in modern day cricket, Rohit has always been catching the eye with his fantastic performances. His captaincy skills and charismatic batting style have changed the perception of many cricket pundits over the years, who used to consider him nothing more than a one-hit-wonder. But, over time and whenever required, this champion cricketer from Nagpur has silenced his critics with many incredible performances.
However, one of the highlights of his cricketing journey has been his captaincy with the IPL franchise, the Mumbai Indians. He took charge of this struggling team in 2013 and completely changed their fate, which was at the bottom part of the points table in the first two editions of the tournament, but fought back hard in later editions to become one of the most successful teams in IPL history.
They were known to be one of the most unpredictable sides of that time (2010-2012), who used to falter at crucial moments of the tournament. Although they finished as the table toppers in 2010 and got the third position in both the 2011 and 2012 editions of the competition, they still had some more length to go.
They were actually looking for someone who could help them cross the final hurdle to lift the coveted IPL trophy. The drought finally ended in 2013 when the captaincy was handed over to Rohit Sharma by a struggling Ricky Ponting.
The Mumbai Indians beat the Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, to win their first IPL tournament. Since then, the team has been one of the consistent performers in the competition and has won three IPL and two Champions League titles.
The Road to Team India's Captaincy
Rohit Sharma has been carrying the tag of ‘natural talent' since the very first day of his arrival in international cricket. He has carried this burden throughout his cricketing career, and it has somehow kept him under pressure over time.
He started off his promising career with some eye-catching performances in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, but could not maintain the consistency required in international level. He was delivering good performances in alternate series but struggled to cement his place in the side. This inconsistency also deprived him of a place in India's successful World Cup campaign of 2011.
But it was Dhoni's masterstroke in the 2013 Champions Trophy that got him a chance to play at the top of the order, and this changed his fortune. India had done many experiments for the vacant opening slots after the exit of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag's pair at that time and was looking for some good contenders to fill their shoes. The opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit turned out to be their perfect successors and was one of the major reasons for their first Champions Trophy title.
Since then, Rohit has not looked back and has been standing as a tall pillar for the Indian Team. He has performed in vital circumstances and has been one of the critical factors in India's cricketing dominance over the world in recent years.
In 2017, when Virat Kohli was rested against Sri Lanka to focus on the South African tour, Rohit was rewarded for his brilliant performances and was handed over the captaincy for the first time. He comprehensively passed his very first assignment at the international level as India won the ODI series by a margin of 2-1, and the T20I series by 3-0. His next captaincy assignment was the Nidahas Trophy in March 2018, where India beat Bangladesh with Dinesh Karthik's heroics in the dramatic final in Sri Lanka.
He captained India in its Asia Cup title defence in September of this year, when India emerged victorious by beating Bangladesh in UAE. For the ongoing three-match T20 series against West Indies, India has again rested its regular skipper Virat Kohli.
Recently, India beat West Indies in the second T20I match by 71 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead. This has kept intact India’s record of not losing a single series under his captaincy.
The last five years have turned out to be a golden period for this Nagpur lad, and this is making him a favourite contender for any upcoming permanent captaincy opportunity.