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Rohit Sharma - The unfulfilled 'talent'

In an inconsequential presentation ceremony of yet another meaningless T20 match, Sachin was questioned as to whom according to him possessed the potential to break his ‘hundred-century’ record. “Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli” – pat came the reply from the little master. Sachin is not a person to mince his words, and coming from him, it was significant to see the name of ‘Rohit Sharma’.

Foreword:

CRICKET-ICC-WORLD-T20-MATCH24-IND-RSA

To begin with, Rohit has indeed been a player to watch out for in the past. As a young talent, he manufactured a reputation for himself in the domestic circuit with some breath-taking performances that defied logic. His exploits in the third season of the Indian Premier League, when he single-handedly led the Deccan Chargers to the last four, just about compiles his talent in a nutshell.

The essence of his batting is the technical stability that he possesses. Somehow, he has obtained the knack of predicting the line and length a fraction of a second before other batsmen, an attribute for which Inzamam-ul-Haq was famous.

The beginning:

The first time Rohit Sharma was thrust into the limelight was the time he played in the U-19 World Cup. Very few batsmen were known for the class they exuded even at that tender age, and he was taken under the wings of the BCCI for grooming soon after.

His progress was imminent as he made a mark in the T20 World Cup in 2007. Rohit oozed the confidence of a mature batsman even in his debut tournament. It was heartening to see him play the pull shot with disdain, and the slog that was ballistic in nature. More than the shots, it was the manner in which he executed them that deserve a mention. He had a cool head and almost-perfect timing, as the ball kept finding the sweet spot of the bat.

The rise to stardom:

Australia v India - Commonwealth Bank Series 1st Final

The Commonwealth Bank series in 2008 was a turning point in his career. After a successful outing at the World cup, Rohit received a call-up to the national side and was handed a debut in the 50-over format. Rohit did not disappoint. He carried on his form from the World Cup, as he scored two brilliant half-centuries to assist India in their victory. Sachin was mightily impressed with this young lad from his own state, and remarked that he had never seen a batsman so glorious on the field.

“Moments, when lost, can’t be found again. They’re just gone.”

Rohit Sharma is the commentator’s favourite child. Whenever he gets going, commentators love to build up on his talent and the ‘lazy elegance’ that he seems to possess. The number of adjectives they have used while describing him have been quite amusing. These very adjectives tend to be the reasons for Rohit to become the laughing stock the moment he loses his integrity as a batsman. To sum up, his career lost its sheen after the initial burst, and he was left to languish on the domestic circuit. He dissipated the chances he received, and made a mess of his name.

The friendly nemesis that overtook him:

Meanwhile, the meteoric rise of teammate Virat Kohli was in progress, as Kohli went on to capture hearts with a much-improved work-ethic, forgetting his swagger and the unkempt body language. Let’s not forget that it was Rohit and not Virat who was touted as the ‘next big thing’ in cricket.

Kohli did have his issues, alright, but he chose to put those behind him and concentrate on the task at hand. On the other hand, Rohit has been content to go with the flow. That was absolutely frustrating and the fact that he has not bothered to give it a thought is outrageous.

Maybe the predicament of Kohli and Rohit could have been altered in the Border-Gavaskar trophy in 2012. Having failed in the first two Tests, Kohli was not making headlines for the right reasons. The fans vociferously supported the inclusion of Sharma ahead of Kohli in the third Test. Ultimately, it was Kohli who made the cut, and from then on he hasn’t looked back. Maybe, if Rohit was selected ahead of Kohli, we wouldn’t have known Kohli as we do now.

The World Cup debacle:

West Indies v India - ICC T20 World Cup

“At 42, I am fitter than you!”

– Gary Kirsten (referring to Rohit Sharma)

After the disastrous tour to West Indies, where India was completely outplayed in every department in the World T20 in 2010, Kirsten didn’t mince his words while questioning the fitness and work-ethic of Rohit Sharma. Nothing could have been more humiliating for a youngster. Kirsten was visibly frustrated to see Rohit squandering his chances at the highest level, with the amount of talent he possessed.

The missing ‘talent’:

Talent is a curse. If you succeed, the talent factor would be praised; if you fail, then people would point a finger at your lack of application. The backing of the skipper was even more absurd, and Dhoni was criticized for picking Rohit time and again after the failures. Maybe Dhoni agreed with the critics when they said that Rohit was the ‘next big thing’ in cricket. This statement was issued six years back, and after all these years Rohit is still ‘on the verge’ of fulfilling his talent.

The new lease of life as an opener:

In the One Day series against England this year, Rohit was included as the opening batsman in the fourth ODI due to the expulsion of Sehwag and the poor form of Ajinkya Rahane. Rohit did not disappoint. He was off the mark with a glorious pull-shot that impressed the critics and the audience alike. He was the epitome of grace and poise as he scored 83 runs.  It would have boosted his confidence definitely. He should start contemplating his career as an opener forthwith.

The critics were at it once again, praising Sharma for the excellent wrists, the footwork, and what not. It is his bane, if truth be told. Rohit Sharma should not be deceived by the flattery and should look to rectify his mistakes, rather than living on the positives.

The ‘tick-tock’ rival:

Indian Board President's XI criketer Roh

Though Rohit has a poor One Day record, his fans are crazy enough to compare him with Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj Singh did have lesser runs after playing the same number of games as Rohit, but Indian cricket wasn’t a crowded place during his time. He had the freedom to settle into the team, which Rohit lacks, and Rohit needs to ensure that every move of his counts from this point, be it in the IPL or a One Day game, or even a relatively unimportant domestic match.

The latest string of poor scores have put him down. It is going to prove difficult for Sharma to make a comeback into the Test team since the Indian team is looking quite settled. Rohit would have to bide his time at least till the completion of the South African series, and that is way too long, to be honest. Time is running out, with him being on the wrong end of twenty-five years.

“Michael Hussey made his debut at 30. Doesn’t mean I want to start my Test career so late. But I am only 25 now. I know my time will come.”

– Rohit Sharma

He might look at his dropping with a positive attitude. But looking at things as they are, it is nigh impossible for Rohit to make the Indian Test team in the near future. He might be on the fringes of selection in the limited overs squad, but Test cricket is going to be a distant dream for the youngster.

Epilogue:

The Indian team does not need a Rohit Sharma at present. Maybe he will obtain a chance in the future. The adjectives “talented”, “promising” and “next big thing” would go in vain if he does not pull his socks up and perform. He would invariably go down the history books as “the unfulfilled talent”.

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