As India got off to a dream start in the ongoing ICC World Cup 2019, the master in command – Rohit Sharma, was on a different level altogether. The Men in Blue’s six-wicket win over South Africa helped them start their World Cup 2019 campaign with two points in the bag. Up next, is a blockbuster clash against Australia on Sunday. The defending champions are on a 10-match unbeaten run in ODIs and have sealed two victories on the trot in the ongoing mega event.
But the focus here is on Rohit and his excellency in the 50-over format. The 32-year-old senior cricketer has grown rapidly as a player and we got to see vintage Rohit at his best against a spirited Proteas bowling attack. Rohit dominated the show after settling in. Prior to that, he was absolutely watchful, calm and sensible.
When player like Kagiso Rabada come hard at you, it’s difficult to negotiate the offerings. Rohit’s eyes was as big as a hawk and he hardly looked discomforted. The senior cricketer has come a long way in ODI cricket and starting World Cup 2019 with a century, topped the billing for the Mumbaikar.
Here we look at Rohit and how he has shaped himself as one of the best ODI players we have witnessed.
Rohit grinds it out against SA
The star cricketer hit an unbeaten 122 against Fat du Plessis & Co. Credit goes to him for applying himself well on a pitch that had a lot something for the fast bowlers. This was India’s first match in the 2019 World Cup and Rohit was never under the pressure to perform or get over excited. That’s what maturity does to you.
He withered the early onslaught from the in-form Kagiso Rabada, who got Shikhar Dhawan (8) with a beauty. Rohit grinned it out and once the other bowlers came in, he derived the authority after settling down. This was a match-winning knock from the vice-captain, who has grown so many layers over the last few years.
If the burden of captaincy has made him more responsible whenever Virat Kohli isn’t around, the urge to score runs emphatically has also defined his success. Rohit’s 100 came off 128 balls on Wednesday and it was the slowest of his 23 tons in ODIs. His willingness to be present in the middle and stay till the very end was the biggest gain for India. This was an attribute India wanted to notice in their senior pros.
The opening star stitched three crucial partnerships along the way and guided India home in a crucial encounter.
He has dominated ODIs since a while now
He is a proud carrier of three double hundreds in ODI cricket. A feat that has only been achieved by him. Rohit has dominated the ODI circuit since a while now and only Kohli has bettered his tally as far Indian cricket is concerned. The panache and the finesse in Rohit atop has guided India many times. Their success in ODIs is largely due to the top order and Rohit deserves praise for standing tall like a pillar.
In 2017, Rohit was the second highest run-scorer in ODI cricket (1,293). With six hundreds and five fifties, the stylish batsman governed the cricket field. He followed that up with 1,030 runs in 2018 and was again the second highest run-scorer. He amassed five hundreds and three fifties.
Come 2019, he has already amassed 678 runs from 14 games and is the third highest run-getter at the moment. Two tons have come from his bat. So when you look at the last two and a half years, Rohit has smashed 13 centuries in total. He had made his ODI debut in 2007 and out of the 23 career ODI tons he has now, more than half has come at this phase.
Rohit deserves all the plaudits for a different nature
“I think in my opinion this is by far his best ODI innings because of the kind of pressure the first game brings from a World Cup point of view. And then I know, as a batsman, when you go in and a few balls bounce like that, it’s not easy to gather yourself again and play in a calm manner,” said Indian team skipper Kohli after the win against SA.
Everybody including the 30-year-old Kohli loved the way Rohit controlled the match and attacked the spinners. This was a match where India handled the chase well. The 85-run stand with KL Rahul set the base for India. And then there was that solid 74-run partnership with the veteran MS Dhoni.
The manner in which Rohit reacted to the situation was at the top level. “He played the perfect innings for that kind of a situation on that kind of a wicket against a bowling attack that was threatening to pick up wickets at any stage. So, yeah, in my opinion, by far his best knock,” Kohli added.
This was someone, who showed the other side of his game. The manner is which he put a price on his wicket was a beautiful moment for the fans and pundits alike.
India will want a Rohit show as CWC 19 progresses
This could be his last World Cup as by the time the 2023 event comes, he will be 36-plus. India will be wanting to stay afloat through Rohit’s wings and gain ascendancy in World Cup 2019. He has the third highest centuries for India in ODIs and that makes him one of the legends of Indian cricket already.
The 32-year-old has scored 8,132 runs in 207 ODIs at an average of 48.11. His contribution in CWC 19 will be a strong factor for India. Remember, the World Cup is in the round-robin format and consistency is the key here for semis qualification. If India are to gain substance and go the distance, then Rohit is that ideal man that can provide that extra bit apart from the other mega stars in the side.
Come Australia, Rohit will be looking forward to the challenge in facing real quality in the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.