Rohit Sharma might be called the ‘Hitman’ by fans in the Cricket-loving parts of the planet. But the quality of his batting and the big difference it lends his team makes him a colossus in front of whom the best in the business seem ordinary and lackluster.
In 2019, Rohit Sharma was a batsman who when on song. And when he’s in his rhythm, he makes cricket looks like a melody that can be listened and hummed again and again. His batting is such that every every square drive, the punch off the backfoot and the instantly crafted mid-wicket flick seem hit-numbers without which no evergreen playlist would seem complete.
That Rohit does it all the more consistently- as seen this year- and with a sense of grace makes him an artist second to none in the fine craft of batsmanship. 2019 was a year where he not only bettered himself but rose even further in his stature of a batsman without whom the batting charts look dry and point to an emptiness.
He looked at ease at both home comfort and in foreign conditions. Busy batsmen seldom reserve words for self-praise; their numbers speak for themselves. Ditto for the opening batsman from India, who ensured that fans were inside the stadia at all times, and mostly on the edge of their seats whenever his batting produced a thriller. And it did for the majority of the year.
So which were the best moments for Rohit Sharma in 2019?
Rohit Sharma resuscitated his Test career in 2019
Good batsmen make lots of runs. But great batsmen make runs in all formats of the game. The latter holds true for Rohit Sharma, whose consistent performances, not to mention the magnificence each knock carried throughout the year raised a question worthy of debate among fans not only from India but elsewhere in the Cricket-loving world:
Is Virat Kohli the only great Indian batsman of this modern era, how about Rohit Sharma as well?
Proving that he could bring the quality of firing runs with quintessential ease associated with his limited-overs exploits into the longest format of the game, one where past inconsistencies and being in-and-out of the team have hurt his cause, Rohit Sharma did more than just resuscitate his fledgling Test career. He went ahead to forge a new chapter of his Indian journey.
Nothing could corroborate the above sentiment as wholly as Rohit’s bludgeoning of one of India’s serious victims this year: the touring Proteas side under Faf.
In scoring 529 Test runs, the most scored ever by an Indian in a 3-match series, Rohit also broke the record for the most runs collected by an opener in Test whites.
The magnificent timing, the fluent drives, and the rasp cuts, Rohit used both the depth of the crease and the depth of international experience to stamp his class on a game, despite being in a team that has one elegant batsman too many, including Pujara, Rahane, Virat himself. Therefore, a year where one of the world’s best reached, through sheer effort and commitment, his highest-ever Test score of 212, that classy Ranchi double formed one of the best moments for Rohit Sharma in 2019.
World Cup campaign 2019
Any first thoughts upon the completion of India’s 2019 World Cup campaign would’ve looked back at only two factors when dealing with perhaps the most unmanageable question: how come India didn’t win the tournament most would’ve thought was certain to go India’s way given the menacing form both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were in?
While India’s bowling attack was perhaps second to none, given the pace and spin combination it boasted, the fact that not just the great Virat Kohli but the dangerous Rohit Sharma too was in fantastic touch made India the most dangerous side alongside an Australia or England.
And Rohit rewarded the faith of his followers and answered the high expectations we had of his caliber pretty well, firing not one or two or three but 5 hundred- Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh, England, Sri Lanka- at the 2019 Cricketing fiesta.
To make hundreds in a bi-lateral series is normal nature to talented batsmen. But to make consistent hundreds, again and again in the mother of all sporting battles indeed is a spectacular feat, an effort that formed one of the best moments for Rohit Sharma in 2019.
Rohit’s dismissive blade attacked and demoralized one and all, undifferentiating between a Mitchell Starc, Chris Woakes, Ben Stokes, Jason Holder, Kagiso Rabada, Mustafizur Rahman, Lasith Malinga or anyone for that matter.
And perhaps in emerging on top, outscoring Virat comprehensively in the process of scoring 648 runs, 25 only behind the great Sachin Tendulkar’s tally of 673 (in 2003 World Cup), the right-hander further raised his graph as perhaps the batsman who’s nearly as dangerous as his glorious predecessor up the order: Master Blaster, Sachin Tendulkar.
Proving he can score in any partnership
The job of opening batsmen isn’t merely to get the team off to a flying start but to complement one another’s game. In that regard, there’s nothing untoward about a common feeling we get seeing most opening batsmen. They thrive on their partner’s presence. Picture- Finch and Warner, Munro and Guptill, and in the past, Sehwag and Sachin, Amla and de Kock, Gayle and Samuels.
But there’s also a comfort a pair seeks from one another and in the case of one being dismissed early from a stand, the other, often, comes under a sense of pressure.
So when Rohit Sharma’s usual batting partner Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of the World Cup, someone with whom the Mumbai batsman has collected tons of runs for nearly a decade and a half, instead of feeling the natural unease, he continued to pile on the runs.
Perhaps one of the most unsung moments for India in the world cup stand was the consistent Rahul and Rohit partnership that struck vital runs up top, a phenomenon that continued without any ado well afterward up until the final ODI series for India played this year.
In the World Cup game against Bangladesh, when the two elegant batsmen knocked away 180 runs without any discomfort, they not only raised an important bar for their own partnership but bettered a historic opening stand for the most runs scored by the two openers for India. This fluent Rohit and Rahul stand went on to collect goodies for India in a season where there was hardly any dearth in wins, scoring comprehensively against the touring Windies.
The 227-run stand by the openers during the Second ODI at Vizag was the highest opening stand conjured by Indian openers ever against the West Indies. Overall, it was the second-highest opening stand recorded against the same side. But Rohit’s easy and unassuming nature, it has to be said, allowed KL Rahul to settle into the very role for which he had been drafted into the Indian side, a duty he wasn’t perhaps getting enough opportunities to do, being sent one down in Shikhar Dhawan’s presence. This quality of being Rahul’s able partner when Rohit’s own was missing in action formed one of the best moments for Rohit Sharma in 2019.
Second only to the best in ODIs in 2019
One of the best moments for Rohit Sharma in 2019 came in the format in which he forged his initial rise in Team India, a format where his exploits continually take India over the line against its opponents. That Rohit Sharma had a very successful year in ODI Cricket would be putting it mildly.
Can it ever be any easy to give someone like Virat Kohli- his limited-overs captain and someone with whom the right-hander sports a healthy rivalry- a run for the money?
But that was the defining narrative for the fierce striker of the ball for the better part of 2019, a year were given the sheer quantum and consistency with which runs flew from his bat, it hardly seemed that there was an off day in the office.
Even up to the point of India’s final ODI of the year, the one completed just days ago at Cuttack, Rohit had been leading Virat Kohli for the most runs in ODI cricket in the calendar year.
Even in that final game, which, make no mistake required India to complete a successful high-run chase, Rohit batted with the same effect and quality which defined much of the year for him; with a sense of dash, with a sense of impact.
His 63 off as many balls was instrumental to take India off to a flier, once again. In the end, Rohit rounded up 1490 runs in the ODI arena for the year, an effort complimented by 7 hundred at an average of 57. Of the 27 times he batted this year, on 13 occasions, he finished either with a hundred or a fifty for his team. How do you spell great? ROHIT!
The world’s best batsman in 2019?
Is Rohit Sharma among the best modern-day batsman today? Or is that elite enlistment still restricting to other game-changers, siding only with the big four- Joe Root, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, and Rohit Sharma’s compatriot, the great Virat Kohli?
In fact, if only a single series, one as incredibly taxing on the mind as physically rigorous were to be considered the benchmark for batsmen to rise through and be considered eligible as the game’s current greats then it cannot possibly get bigger than the ICC Cricket World Cup.
It’s a format in itself and a contest like no other. The stakes couldn’t possibly get any bigger and Rohit perhaps chose this occasion as the perfect opportunity to rise to the forefront of runners that compete in the game’s most ultra-competitive contest: the best in the business.
Fundamentally speaking, Rohit who can both guard his wicket and unroot the best bowlers in the game not only has all the shots in his batting armory but a technique that conveys grace. That he now has numbers too, lot’s of them, doesn’t make the discussion of considering him among the world’s best batsmen in the game today an unrealistic call or an assessment that lacks prudence.