When Rohit Sharma is at his sublime best, the bat seems a mere extension of the arms, when he hits those pristine sixes, he does so with effortless poise that is not common among batsmen in world cricket, and when he is toying with the bowling, all that the opposition can do is gape at him in awe.
Rohit Sharma has emerged as one of the greatest batsmen of the modern era, alongside the legendary Virat Kohli and has carved a niche for himself with his ability to flatten bowling attacks across the world with disdain.
The ‘Hitman’ stands fourth in the list of batsmen with most ODI hundreds with 29 ODI tons to his name. He is also the second fastest Indian batsman to the 9000 run mark in ODI cricket, after Virat Kohli, and has already stamped his authority as one of the greatest Indian batsmen in ODI cricket.
But, was life this cozy for Rohit Sharma always?
Accused Of Not Utilizing Talent
For long, Sharma was labeled as a man who was wasting his prodigious talent. He was not among the runs in his initial years, and was floating around in the middle order.
The likes of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar were occupying the top of the order, and Sharma would come in the middle overs, more as a floater in the batting order.
He scored just two hundreds in his first 79 innings, and was not converting his prodigious talent into runs with the willow.
The Opener In Rohit Sharma
It was only in the year 2013, after the legendary Tendulkar and the dashing Sehwag left the side, did MS Dhoni unveil another master stroke of his by promoting Rohit to the top of the order.
And, that was like a new lease of life for the ‘Hitman’. Now, Sharma had the license to showcase his full array of shots, and the stroke maker in him came to the fore.
Here, let us have a look at Rohit Sharma’s record in ODI cricket as an opener, versus him playing in any other batting position.
Rohit Sharma as an opener
Rohit Sharma as a non opener
We can see clearly that Rohit transformed into one of the world’s greatest batsmen only after opening the batting for his side. He has scored a staggering 27 ODI hundreds as an opener.
Only the legendary Sachin Tendulkar has more ODI hundreds as an opener than Sharma. Also, as many as 7148 of his 9115 runs have come as an opener in ODI cricket.
Three Double Hundreds In ODI
And then, comes the icing on the cake. There have been just 8 double hundreds in ODI cricket history. Out of that, three have come from the willow of the ‘Hitman’.
He also holds the record for the highest individual score in ODI cricket, a blistering 264 against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in the year 2014. No batsman apart from Sharma, has breached the 250 run mark in ODI cricket.
Sharma also plundered a stunning 209 against the Aussies in Bangalore in the year 2013. In an innings studded with a record 16 sixes, Sharma pummeled the Australian bowling attack combining brutal power and sublime flair.
His third double hundred came against Sri Lanka in the year 2017. Sharma blasted 208* in that match, and paved the way for his side to beat their opponents by a gargantuan margin of 141 runs.
The 2019 World Cup
The ODI World Cup is the biggest stage in the game of cricket. It is the stage where a cricketer gets a chance to etch his name in the annals of history. It is ‘the grandest stage of them all.’ And, during the 2019 World Cup, Rohit’s batting reached a crescendo.
He became the first and only batsman in history to score 5 hundreds in a single World Cup event, scored 648 runs and averaged a colossal 81.00.
Four of his hundreds in the tournament paved a way for an Indian victory, proving that his form is of vital importance in the success of his side. Rohit capped off 2019 with 1490 ODI runs, by far his most successful year in his career.
Fireworks In The Test Arena As well
That was not all. In the Test arena too, Rohit opened the batting for the first time in his career this year, and even there he blazed his way to the top.
In the 6 innings that he played this year, Rohit scored two hundreds and a colossal double hundred and averaged a Bradmanesque 92.67 in Tests played in 2019.
He also scored two hundreds in his debut Test as an opener against South Africa, and this is an achievement that has eluded even the great Sachin Tendulkar.
Rohit, A Modern Day Batting Colossus
Way back in the year 2012, the iconic Sachin Tendulkar was asked who were the batsmen who could go on to break his batting records. “Virat and Rohit are the ones.”, Tendulkar declared emphatically.
Tendulkar had earmarked Rohit Sharma for greatness way back in 2012. And today, Sharma is indeed proving the masters words true by raking in the runs with the willow.
At the age of 33, Sharma still has a long way to go. He still has a lot more records to be thwarted, a lot more bowling attacks to demolish, and more importantly, a lot of battles to be won for his country. And, with his superlative performances with the willow, Rohit has carved a space for himself as a modern day batting colossus.
Here’s wishing the ‘Hitman’ a happy 33rd Birthday.
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