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T20 World Cup: Captain Rohit Sharma Completes Redemption Arc, Then Bids Goodbye

T20 World Cup 2024: Rohit Sharma has bid farewell to T20I cricket. But before that, he completed his redemption arc.

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Cricket
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India have won. Rohit Sharma is on the ground, tears rolling from his eyes. He is slapping the ground, more in relief than ecstasy.

Just seven months ago, it was utter agony against Australia in Ahmedabad. Another unbeaten World Cup campaign, another World Cup final. It had almost slipped away from the grasp this time as well, only that it ultimately didn't.

Moments later, Rohit has Hardik Pandya in his embrace. All the controversy around the Mumbai Indians captaincy and the apparent tiff just a few months ago seems to have washed away. In different ways, it is a moment of redemption for both Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya.
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As Pandya winds up his interview with the host broadcaster, Rohit Sharma affectionately plants a kiss on his cheeks on camera. This is a captain saying thank you to his gun all-rounder for pulling a rabbit out of the hat on the biggest stage.

This is not about any franchise, this is not about massaging egos. This is a win for the country, for the 1.5 billion Indians back home who have waited for 13 long years since the 2011 World Cup win for their team to lift another World Cup trophy.

The One That Got Away

"It took me two to three days to realise that we lost the final and that we will get another chance only four years later," Rohit reflected on the 2023 World Cup final defeat at home.

One can only imagine how bitter a pill to swallow that loss would have been for Rohit Sharma. With the batters making centuries for fun, pacers breathing fire, and the entire nation cheering on, the final seemed all but a formality. However, it wasn't to be for the Men in Blue then.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. The elusive World Cup trophy ultimately came to Rohit and his boys.

"I wanted this badly. Very hard to put in words. It was a very emotional moment for me. I was very desperate for this title in my life. Happy that we eventually crossed the line," a victorious Rohit Sharma said.

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Walking the Talk of Fearless Approach

A few months before the Indian squad was announced for this T20 World Cup, it wasn't even clear whether the two biggest batters of their generation – Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli – would make the cut. It was only after Hardik Pandya's extended injury break and his plummeting form that the Indian selectors decided to back Sharma and Kohli one last time for T20s.

Rohit has been harping on about taking a 'fearless approach' for a couple of years now, but saying and doing are two different things. It is fashionable to say that one does not care for landmarks, but feeling it with every pore of your body is what changes team cultures and helps teammates buy into the philosophy.

When Rohit was dismissed for 92 in the last Super 8 game against Australia, there wasn't disappointment for missing the landmark, but for what more he could have done to further the team's cause.

Despite playing on tough batting surfaces in New York, the Indian captain did not budge from his stance. The team reaped the benefits of his philosophy in the semi-final, where the skipper led by example once again with a rapid 57 on a slow pitch as India annihilated England to march on into the final.

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Not Many Are in Rohit Sharma’s League

Rohit's innings in the final might have lasted for just five deliveries but he made his intentions clear from the outset, that regardless of the magnitude of the occasion, he was going to walk the talk.

Cricket is a unique sport in the fact that a captain can really have a massive impact on the game without actually holding the bat, sending down a single delivery or pulling off a brilliant catch.

To still have the belief, continue ringing in the bowling changes, have precise fielding placements, egg the bowlers on, discuss strategy after almost every delivery and maintain his composure requires a special individual. How many other captains in world cricket could have pulled it off?
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The Leader Walks Away, Leaving His Legacy Behind

Much like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma also announced his T20 International retirement after winning the trophy.

This was my last [T20I] game as well. No better time to say goodbye to this format. I've loved every moment of this. I started my India career playing this format. This is what I wanted, I wanted to win the cup.
Rohit Sharma

He walks away from the format as the highest run-scorer of all-time with 4231 runs at 32.05 and a strike rate of just over 140. He also struck five T20I centuries, more than any other batter. 

Interestingly, it is in this format that Rohit Sharma first represented India at a World Cup, and it becomes the first one he bids goodbye.

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Rohit is only one of two players alongside Shakib Al Hasan to have featured in all nine T20 World Cups. Let's take a moment to absorb that we won't see The Hitman in the Indian Jersey in T20 cricket anymore.  No more front foot pulls over square leg, no more antics at the toss, no more Mumbaiya slangs on the stump mic.

But what we'll always have is the World Cup trophy and the numerous memories Rohit gave us along the way.

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