Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli: when you hear these two names together, your mind draws an image of two starkly different entities that go surprisingly well together - like piping hot Gulab Jamun with Vanilla ice-cream. Virat Kohli epitomizes the hardworking batsman: he starts running the 1s and 2s by nudging the balls in the gaps as soon as he comes to the crease. Rohit Sharma on the other hand is known for his lazy elegance. On Gaurav Kapur's 'Breakfast with Champions', Virat Kohli jokingly said that Rohit Sharma has 1.5 seconds more than any other batsman to time the ball, that's how gifted he is.
Picture this. Shikhar Dhawan has just been dismissed, and the crowd erupts with chants of "Kohli, Kohli" as the cameras glare in through Virat Kohli's helmet and through his immaculate beard and focus on his alert eyes. The audience gets the feeling that a tiger has just set out on a hunt for its prey.
On the other end, Rohit Sharma looks relaxed, with his shoulders not as upright as Virat Kohli's. It looks like he has just got his eye in, but you know what the experts say about Rohit: he is always a scratchy starter. There are a couple of misunderstandings between the two, but luckily neither of them has gotten run-out.
An express-pace bowler comes charging in and remembers the tendency of Indian batsmen to be wary against fiery, short-pitched bowling. So he pitches it short and directs it at Rohit Sharma's helmet. Big mistake. Rohit Sharma has enough time to get into the perfect position to play the pull and deposit the cherry into the stands. With that, Rohit Sharma has broken his shackles, and we, the audience, are on course to witness yet another monster partnership between this special duo in an ODI.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have shared 18 century stands in just 80 innings
The fact that this duo has put up 18 century stands in just 80 innings is an astonishing feat by itself. Of the six pairs who have achieved the landmark of 15 century stands in ODI cricket, this is the only active duo. The other duos are Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly (26 century stands in 176 innings), Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara (20 in 108), Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden (16 in 117), Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (15 in 103), and Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara (15 in 151).
Among the duos who have shared at least 50 stands in ODIs, the Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli duo has the highest average per dismissal of 65.04. This average goes up to a mind-boggling 81.88 in 48 matches starring the duo and won by India, which is again the highest among duos who have shared at least 25 stands in ODIs won by their team. In the 30 matches starring the duo that India lost, their average dipped to 42.20, thus emphasizing the fact that the team generally goes on to win when this special duo does well together.
The fact that Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma love chasing targets is no secret. In successful run-chases, they constitute the third-best duo in terms of absolute number of runs scored. There are only two duos who better their record of 2347 runs in successful run-chases: the Ganguly-Tendulkar duo who scored 3007 runs at an average of 63.97, and the West Indian duo of Greenidge-Haynes who scored 2472 runs at an average of 70.62.
But the point that is to be noted is that the Sharma-Kohli duo has a superior average of 97.79 in successful run-chases and with the amount of cricket left in them, you would assume that they would not end their careers before beating their compatriots' record.
They say that there is no better love story than that of Rohit Sharma and double centuries. Well, that is not limited to him just on an individual level. He has also been involved in as many as 5 200+ stands with Virat Kohli. Of those, 3 of them have come in India and 2 of them have come abroad. Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly and Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara follow with 3 each.
There is absolutely no doubt that Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will both retire as among the greatest ever to have played the game. Their contributions to Indian cricket and the entertainment of Indian cricket fans are immense.
However, they would be itching to put up one of those magical partnerships in the knockout stages of the upcoming World Cups - the 2 T20 World Cups whenever they are held, and the ODI World Cup in 2023 - so that they put an end to the Indian cricket team's elusive quest for an ICC title since the Champions Trophy triumph in 2013.