Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The RoHIT Man

As a school student, I had the company of a peer, who according to the teachers had scope and the potential to excel. But sadly, when the results were out, he always underperformed, to the misery of the teachers. Post the results, the process used to be the same. The teachers used to remind him of his ability; and motivated by that, he gave his best shot at studies, but couldn’t get the score he desired. This process carried on for a few years until one day; he stood out, with brilliant results, stunning everyone by utter surprise. And the secret behind the success was the self belief he attained in himself after doing well in a certain exam. One good prelim changed his outlook at the academics. Then there wasn’t any looking back.

This inspiring anecdote can be related to the cricketing world as well. In the Indian cricket circle, this student is known as ROHIT SHARMA. The case of the TALENTED Rohit Sharma is very similar to the student. Well, the term talent has become synonymous with Sharma now for quite sometime.

Even before making his international debut against Ireland, Sharma was termed as the “NEXT BIG THING” in Indian cricket. His appetite for runs in the domestic circuit was simply intimidating. After all, he too came from the Bombay School of Batsman ship, which has reputed names under its wings. It all started for Rohit Sharma, in a summer camp, where the head coach, impressed by Sharma’s talent, handpicked him. Then began the vigorous training for the talented Sharma.  From the Giles Shield to the Ranji Trophy, his exploits with the bat were well known. The selectors took no time in noticing this, and he was drafted into the side, for India’s UK tour in the summer of 2007.

However, Sharma hogged the limelight in a must-win ICC World T20 match against South Africa. India were struggling at 33-3, when Sharma walked out in the middle. He stayed there till the end, and along with skipper M.S.Dhoni, ensured that India got to a respectable total. Rohit got his maiden T20 50 in his debut innings. That innings lasting 40 balls, defined maturity and resilience, against the lethal South African bowling attack. India went on to win the match courtesy of Rohit’s maturity. In the much hyped final against Pakistan, Rohit scored a vital 30 off just 16 deliveries. Those 30 runs went on to become a part of history.

All was going well for the elegant batsman, and he once again proved his ability with the bat in the first final of the CB series in Australia. That night in Sydney is much remembered for Sachin Tendulkar’s century in a tough chase. But little do people remember about Rohit’s crucial knock of 66. Those 66 runs were no less than a century. India won that game with ease in the end, and once again, went on to script history.

The next few months were moderate for Rohit as he remained in and out of the team. He was often given chances in dead rubbers, when the seniors were rested. But forlornly, he couldn’t make a mark in the given chances. In Feb 2010, he was all set for a test debut, as a replacement for the injured VVS Laxman, but that was when tragedy struck. Thirty minutes before the toss, Rohit was ruled out with an ankle injury, which he inflicted upon himself in a practice session. Who knew that Rohit would have to wait for more than 40 months, to play in the most unadulterated form of the game!

In the upcoming months, Rohit did very little of notice and could never justify his talent. The classy Mumbai batsman, wasn’t even considered for the 2011 World Cup. That simply left him crestfallen. During that phase, there came a point when Rohit began doubting his own ability. People often compared Rohit to a football sensation, Wayne Rooney. The reason though was quite infamous. One newspaper headline drew a similarity between the two in the following way.


The club in this case was his IPL side, Mumbai Indians. Rohit did profusely well in the IPL, and was often in the list of the leading run getters. But to everyone’s misery, he couldn’t do so in the national attire. Shortly after the victorious World Cup campaign, India toured the Caribbean. Rohit flourished there scoring 257 runs in 5 games, at a mesmerizing average of 128.5. In the return series in India as well after 6 months, Rohit did profusely well, and once again was awarded the Man of the Series.

Just when things were getting back on track, Rohit possibly had to go through the worst part of his career. In a bilateral series against Sri Lanka, Rohit scored a mere 12 runs in 5 matches. The sad part was that, the bowling wasn’t that great and the pitches too were to the liking of the batsmen. Post that series, several jokes mocking Sharma went viral like a rage. One infamous joke arose, stating Sharma to be a “MAGGI MAN”. It meant that by the time the maggi noodles were cooked, Rohit was all, but on his way back to the dressing room.

Inspite of going through a horrendous run, it was skipper MS Dhoni who persisted with Rohit and had complete faith in him. It was one fine evening in the picturesque PCA stadium in Mohali, which radiated vibes of optimism back in the dashing Sharma. Chasing a modest total of 258, Sharma, to the surprise of everyone, was promoted to open the innings. What followed in the due course of the next 90 minutes was no less than a fairy tale. Rohit went on to score 83. 83 runs of sheer class and elegance. Just when he was looking set for a ton, he was wrongly adjudged LBW, much to the disappointment of all the spectators.
However, a new Rohit Sharma had taken birth. A Rohit with more maturity and responsibility. Amidst his purple patch, he was promoted to the captaincy of the lucrative IPL franchise, the Mumbai Indians. He stood out with the bat, and led the team efficiently to their maiden IPL title. 

The Champions Trophy in England, was another high for Rohit. Sharma along with Shikhar Dhawan laid solid foundations for India in all the Champions Trophy games. The first match against South Africa in the Champions Trophy set the tone for Sharma, who scored yet another classy 50. Sharma did exceedingly well in seaming conditions, and was at ease against all the bowlers. He along with Dhawan, provided solid starts for India, and these starts eventually led India to glory.
Rohit Sharma celebrates with some bhangra, England v India, 
Champions Trophy final, Edgbaston, June 23, 2013

In the tri series in West Indies, featuring India and Sri Lanka along with the hosts too was like a dream for Sharma. In yet another victorious campaign for India, Rohit stood out, and was adjudged the “MOST RELIABLE BATSMAN”. He led Mumbai Indians to another title glory. This time the Champions League T20. The Mumbai Indians  were down and almost out of the tournament, but Rohit’s heroics once again stood out. Along with MS Dhoni, Rohit became the only captain to lead an IPL side to a ‘twin’ victory.

By now, Rohit had established himself as an opener and along with Shikhar Dhawan, formed a formidable opening pair. His next outing was against the staunch Aussies. In the second match of the seven match series, India needed 360 to win. A task that seemed literally impossible at the half way mark, was accomplished with utter ease . Rohit along with Dhawan got India off to a scintillating start. Once Dhawan got out, Rohit along with Virat Kohli, chased the target with 40 balls to spare. Hard to imagine isn’t it?

In that chase, Rohit scored a breath taking 146* off just 123 balls. This was his first three digit score in more than 3 years. Rohit was simply blossoming in the ODI series, but as always, the best was saved for the end. In the decider at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, India were put in to bat by George Bailey. Little did Bailey know that he would be on the receiving end of the RoHITMAN. The Mumbai dasher went on to rewrite historic records and scored only the third double century in ODI’s. As many as 16 maximums were hit, which are a record in itself. Rohit was out in the last over for an unbelievable score of 209. Rohit associated another unique record to himself; of scoring the most number of runs in a bilateral series.

Rohit Sharma is elated after scoring his first century in three years, 
India v Australia, 2nd ODI, Jaipur, October 16, 2013

 Rohit Sharma celebrates his double-century off 156 balls, 
India v Australia, 7th ODI, Bangalore, November 2, 2013

His next brilliance was in the ultimate form of the game. Rohit finally made his test debut against West Indies, which was also Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series. In his debut test, on a treacherous Eden Gardens pitch against a menacing Shane Shillingford, Rohit scored a knock worth remembering. 177 runs of sheer excellence and dominance were scored from the blade of Rohit Sharma. And it was a shame that once again, as he neared a milestone, he was wrongly adjudged LBW. But that didn’t stop him from scoring yet another ton in the epic Wankhede Test. Rohit along with the number eleven Mohammad Shami shared a partnership of 80 runs.

Rohit has finally proved his critics wrong and is all set for a bright future. He has cemented his place in the limited overs team as an opener, and his status as a test batsman too justifies his talent. With numerous overseas tours lined up, and the 2015 ICC World Cup, Rohit’s contribution to the Indian team will be extremely crucial. He along with Pujara, Kohli and Dhawan is a part of the modern fab four. India’s success in the near future will depend greatly upon Rohit’s performance. "Rohit Sharma performing well in the not so distant future", is just an understatement at the moment.

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