The Evolution of Rohit Sharma, India’s White-Ball Champion
One of India’s most prolific opening batsmen in ODIs – Rohit Sharma – celebrates his 32nd birthday on Tuesday. Here’s a lookback at the Mumbai batsman’s ODI career, and illustrating why he will be a vital cog in India’s World Cup plans.
Rohit’s career is of many parts. He was carried – even accommodated – in the Indian ODI team for several years on the basis of his promise and talent. From his debut in 2007 until the end of 2012, he averaged 30.43 from 86 ODIs; only two hundreds and 12 half-centuries in that period was definite underperformance and a gross injustice to all his ability.
Then the masterstroke to ask Rohit to face the new ball. That decision revived Rohit’s career, as he took to opening the innings with utmost ease and became one of Team India’s most-dependable batsmen.
As the years passed, Rohit grew in confidence and stature, and he would establish himself as one of the white-ball greats. Rohit’s claim to fame – at this point – include being the first batsman to score three double hundreds in ODIs, scoring a world record 264 – the highest individual score in ODIs, and being named in ICC’s ODI team of the year three years in a row.
And now, he is not too far from becoming the number one batsman in ODIs. On the eve of his 32nd birthday, Rohit is ranked second in the ICC ODI rankings; only teammate Virat Kohli lies ahead.
There are several players who will have flash-in-the-pan years, players who will arrive with a bang and fade away, and several others who will have up and down years. But Rohit is one of the few players who have been churning out runs consistently – match after match, year after year. One can actually trace Rohit’s steady climb up the ICC ODI rankings.
Rohit is the highest run-getter in ODIs since his last birthday; in the last twelve months, he has scored 1416 runs at an average of 67.43. In the twelve months before that, he scored 1463 runs at an average of 60.96; only Virat Kohli had scored more runs than him.
Team India will be very well-served if Rohit Sharma can carry his form of the last couple of years through the next few months.
During Rohit Sharma’s initial few years in international cricket, there were many – including this author – who thought the batsman was too loose and expressed concerns about his technique; the tendency to play away from the body and fish outside the off-stump was a recipe for failure – particularly against the new ball, and in English conditions where the ball does something early on. However, Rohit has the numbers to prove he has what it takes to succeed everywhere; even in England.
And then, remember that Rohit Sharma is a big-match, big-stage player. He loves the ICC tournaments and has done well in those competitions in the past.
Come ICC World Cup 2019, there will be expectations from Indian cricket fans that he can once again score those daddy hundreds and power India’s cause in the ten-team competition.