Shine on Rohit: An open-letter by a hopeful fan
The fact that you have become synonymous with talent should ideally spur you on to achieve great heights, but then for reasons which defy cricketing logic, you have always found ways and means to wriggle under the tag and dish out performances which only force fans like us to sit back, roll our eyes, pinch ourselves and then hope for another performance with bated breath. Your talent and the unbridled potential will always divide opinions all over the world. There is a faction which will back you to the hilt, but then there will be some who will be baying for your blood after every performance, and then this 'talent' word becomes your greatest nemesis.
There is no denying the tremendous improvement in your game in the Limited overs format and even the staunchest of critics will have to acknowledge that you have become a giant against the white ball. You are hence an enigmatic case, as you are blessed with ridiculous ability but this ability is scarred with inconsistency. Your languid playing style is a joy to watch, thus when you fail this very approach is lambasted by all and sundry. I concede, it is very difficult to be Rohit Sharma, more so to be a Rohit Sharma fan!
However, for all those critics out there, your innings in Kolkata on a difficult pitch and against a very potent bowling attack was a timely reminder of your worth. Those 82 runs came when you were under pressure to justify your selection in the Test squad, but most importantly came when the team needed it the most. Those critics will never acknowledge, but it was a match-winning innings. Such is your worth, you can win matches, you can arrest the momentum away from the opposition with your audacious skill, and you give so much to your captain that he is bound to fight and speak vehemently in favour of your inclusion. The sight of Virat Kohli leading the applause when you got to your fifty speaks volumes of the belief the team has in your ability. Just dig in Rohit and make this format your own, you deserve this, and you know it all too well!
When then criticisms come flying in from all quarters, I can only cringe and put forward your figures in the ODIs, with the hope that these numbers remind the naysayers about your potential. They respond by smashing your Test numbers against my face, and I have to meekly walk out of the conversation. However, there is a reason why Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble are so in favour of you getting a longer run in whites. They believe in your ability and they know that you can be a match-winner at number 6 as you have the game to smash the opposition into submission.
Roll back the time a bit, to the time when you were just making up the numbers in the ODI outfit and people were questioning your place in the squad. It was your captain MS Dhoni who decided to push you to open the batting and you responded with a 93-ball 83 to set up a crushing win against England in Mohali. There is a reason why captains believe in you, and now you have to just repay that belief.
I would not be exaggerating when I say that you are probably the most complete batsman in the current squad, but then there is a huge question mark over your temperament, and that whether or not your ability to play almost all strokes in the book becomes your biggest deterrent. I still remember your maiden innings against South Africa in the 2007 World T20 when you planted your front foot and hooked a fast nasty bouncer into the stands. This was when you won me over and convinced me that you can be the batsman across all formats.
And this is why this innings at the Eden Gardens has given me tremendous hope. There are 11 more Test matches to go and if your attitude is anything to go by, I expect you to cement your spot in the team by the end of the season. You will know more than anyone else that half the battle is won in the mind, and there is no denying that you are mentally very strong. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot light up Test cricket, much like you have done in One Day cricket.
Forget all the complexities, after all, the only difference is the colour of the costume and the colour of the ball. Buckle up and then entertain us with your pristine style like you have done donning the blue colour. These 4 years promise to be like a rhythmical poetry, and I trust you to use that piece of willow with 'surgical' precision.
Shine on, Hit-man!