Will Rohit Sharma finally make it count?
It’s not normal for someone to play 58 innings for India without making a century.
It’s not normal for someone to manage to remain in the Indian team for three whole years, without having scored a ton.
It’s not normal for someone to have a batting average that barely touches 34 in over a hundred games, and still always be in contention for a spot in the next match.
It’s not normal for someone to be allowed to fail ever so often, especially when perpetual bench-warmers like Rahane are consistently knocking on the door.
But then again, Rohit Sharma is not a normal cricketer. When he bats, it is quite clear that he is something special.
His batting thoroughly mesmerises you. It hypnotizes you. It captivates you. You feel sheer joy when he cuts through point. You are convinced that his cover drive is amongst the most hauntingly beautiful shots played by any cricketer in the world.
Every time he is at the non-striker’s end, you find yourself anxiously hoping that the strike would rotate so you could see him bat again. You cannot stop watching, even if your house is on fire.
And then, he does what he does more often than not – he gets out playing a rash, ugly shot that violently murders all the hope that had dared to grow in your heart. Every innings, he baffles you. You are flummoxed. You are saddened. You wonder how someone can have so much talent and still disappoint so unfailingly.
Over the last six years, Rohit Sharma has effortlessly settled in the top position as the most frustrating quandary in Indian cricket – it almost looked like talent was wasted on him. In this piece, Jatin Sapru stated that if there was a court to put cricketers who waste their talent on trial, Rohit Sharma would have been issued a permanent visitor card.
In the first 87 ODIs of his career, he scored just 1978 runs, at an average of less than 30. For someone who could not bowl and was occasionally a slight liability on the field owing to fitness concerns, his contribution often tended towards zero.
For someone who was supposed to be the next big thing in world cricket, Rohit Sharma certainly did himself no favours by perennially underperforming. His occasional flashes of brilliance, coupled with the odd fifties that were few and far between, barely managed to keep him afloat.
However, his unabashed display of thorough inconsistency in international cricket was rarely visible in the Indian Premier League. In 97 IPL matches, Rohit stacked up 2513 runs at 32.63 – outstanding numbers for the T20 format.
For a batsman who relies heavily on traditional cricketing shots, his strike rate of 129.66 is commendable. He has won matches for his side from almost impossible situations, and has often managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The burden of captaincy has not had any visible effect on his batting, and he has continued to be a vital cog in the Mumbai Indians batting line-up.