ICC World Cup 2023: Will Record-Breaking Rohit Sharma Ever Get His Due Credit?

#CWC23 | Rohit Sharma has miraculously managed to avoid fanaticism. But will he ever get his due credit?

World Cup
4 min read

There are not many similarities – if any at all – between Sachin Tendulkar and Chris Gayle.

One is a bona fide Mumbaikar, the other is as Jamaican as one could plausibly be. One is an embodiment of consistency, the other is the epitome of power. Till the evening of 11 October, they were the owner of records which matched their traits.

Tendulkar had scored the most centuries in the history of cricket’s pinnacle competition – the ODI World Cup. Gayle had struck the most sixes in international cricket. They are now, respectively, in the second position.

A singular knock had the audacity to digress the established pattern of having completely contrasting players to top the two leaderboards. Take a look at the first five names on both leaderboards – most international sixes and most World Cup centuries – and you will find only one name in common.

Rohit Sharma – the player to knock both Tendulkar and Gayle off the perch. With an 84-ball 131 against Afghanistan. This is in addition to plenty of records he has broken in the past. Yet, for all the fandom of the Indian skipper, does he get his due credit?

Three days after the knock against Afghanistan, Rohit embarked on another record-breaking spree. With a 63-ball 86 in the seven-wicket triumph over Pakistan, he now holds the record of the highest individual score by an Indian captain in a World Cup game against Pakistan, surpassing Virat Kohli's 77 in Manchester from 2019.

The Curse of Talent

Having talent is, beyond any doubt, a blessing. And Rohit Sharma had it, in abundance, as he was going on overseas tours with the India A team before turning 20.

Except Rohit does not believe he is talented, as he himself wrote on the erstwhile Twitter. In fact, he hates it. But why, exactly?

Because talent can also be a curse. To credit a term as vague and undefined for one’s good performances, signifies a gross negligence towards his dedication to the game, alongside the yards and hours put in to reach the higher echelons.

Rohit found terms such as ‘naturally gifted’ being thrown around to explain any and every decent knock that came from his willow. The buzz about a prodigy from Mumbai is always bound to have legs – it had in Rohit’s case, too. So much so that the likes of Virat Kohli were once, admittedly, jealous.

But talent was not enough for Rohit – a world champion at 20 – to the 2011 World Cup. His tweet following the squad announcement, calling it a ‘big setback’ and asking for views (which indicates the tweet did not come from a PR team), is now making rounds.


A Fresh Start

The 2011 World Cup saw the departures of legends, opening a few opportunities for the aspirants like Rohit. Here again, however, his natural gifts were not of much use, as he was asked to – effectively – forget all he had known so far, and learn a completely new trait.

Rohit was a known figure in the international circuit even before the 2011 World Cup. He had already played 57 matches, scoring five half-centuries and a couple of centuries. What’s common in all of those knocks is that he batted in the middle-order. In fact, the only time he was sent to open – against South Africa – resulted in his eviction from the ODI team.

But after becoming two-time champions, India were looking at a transition. Rohit was asked to prove himself, all over again, and while he did not particularly set the stage on fire, he was awarded another chance as an opener.

Numbers Speak for Themselves

With him opening the innings, alongside Shikhar Dhawan, India won the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. Rohit has not had to look back ever since. Between then and now, in the span of a decade, the 36-year-old happens to be the only opening batter to have scored over 8000 runs in ODI cricket.

Rohit is the solitary opener with excess of 3000 ODI runs in the last five years. He was consistent enough to be awarded a place in India’s 2015 World Cup squad, and then in 2019, and now, 2023. No batter has had better numbers in this competition since Rohit’s arrival.
  • 01/03

    Most runs in ODI cricket by openers, in the last five years.

    (Photo: PTI/Altered by The Quint)

  • 02/03

    Leading run-scorers in the last three ODI World Cups (including this one).

    (Photo: PTI/Altered by The Quint)

  • 03/03

    Highest ODI World Cup averages among those who have scored a minimum of 900 runs.

    (Photo: PTI/Altered by The Quint)

Amid all this, he was handed another new assignment – captaincy. First, as a makeshift option when Virat Kohli was unavailable. And then, in a full-time role. In both stints, Rohit won the Asia Cup.

Now at the 2023 ICC World Cup, Rohit has rekindled India's hopes – during a nation-wide ICC trophy starvation, which has now reached a decade. Under his captaincy – the brilliance of which was highlighted in the shrewd bowling changes against Pakistan – Indians are dreaming. Once again.
#CWC23 | Rohit Sharma has miraculously managed to avoid fanaticism. But will he ever get his due credit?

Highest win percentage in ODI cricket among Indian skippers (minimum 35 games).

(Photo: PTI/Altered by The Quint)


One Day, but Not Today

For the stats-hardened analysts with a penchant for numbers, the greatness of Rohit Sharma is pronounced. But in what is an otherwise nucleus of zealotry, Rohit has steered clear of fanaticism.

Perhaps, because his press conferences, interviews and speeches are known more for comic one-liners than chauvinistic rodomontade. Or perhaps, because Rohit’s appearance is not in synchronisation with how Bollywood has taught us to visualise heroes. A slightly portly, balding family guy who is not a ripped, impassionate alpha male? Strict no-no.

Perhaps, he will get his due credit one day. The day when we, the nation, in unison, will shrug off all prejudices.

For now, though, he won’t. But win us the World Cup though, eh?

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