On Wednesday, Rohit shredded off the horror of the previous match, and ‘celebrated’ Virat’s wedding with his third double ton.
Rohit Sharma was finally made captain of the Indian ODI team at 30. Having made his ODI debut before Virat, he was pecked way lower than Kohli in the order of ‘batting greatness’. It was finally his time to make up for the lost glory.
His first outing as captain turned out to be a disaster for him – both as a player and as a captain. As he lost his maiden toss and went out to bat at the HPCA ground in Dharamsala, the ball was doing too many tricks for his liking.
On the 13th ball he faced, a jaffer of a delivery from Lakmal took the outside edge of his bat and deposited itself safely into the gloves of the Lankan keeper Dickwella. The right-hander was aghast at his dismissal, but he had no option but to make the long walk back to the pavilion.
As he sat in the dressing room, what transpired only rubbed salt on his injury. The Indian batsmen seemed to be in a hurry to catch the flight to Virat’s marriage in Italy, as they departed one after another! Amid the crumbling batting line-up, only the veteran keeper, Dhoni, showed some fight. His hard-fought 65-run knock prevented India from the embarrassment of getting bundled out for their lowest-ever ODI score.
I believe that the Rohit we know wouldn’t have lost hope back then. He must have expected that the bowlers would be able to turn the game around. The early strikes by Bumrah and Bhuvi even provided some hope. But as the sun shone and the pitch flattened out, the Indian pacers had no answer to the counter-attacking cricket of Tharanga, Mathews and Dickwella.
As it turned out, India suffered a 7-wicket loss in Rohit’s first ODI as captain. What would have been more humiliating for him is that India could not even muster a fight, as the match was done and dusted in just 21 overs.
It would appear that the script of Rohit’s first outing as a captain had been written by Satan! To add to his agony, he had to defend his team’s performance in the post-match ceremony, and also answer the questions of the reporters in the press conference that followed.
Having failed both as a batsman and captain, he must have gone back to his hotel room dismayed. Such are the times that really test a person’s character. The weak ones submit to fortune, while the strong ones come out of it even stronger.
When India came out to bat on Wednesday, all eyes were on the skipper. He had to lead from the front and inspire a comeback. Rohit didn’t disappoint, as he went all guns blazing after a steady start. After he hit his first boundary on the 14th delivery he faced, there was no looking back.
India got off to a solid start, thanks to the partnership between Rohit and Dhawan. Even after Dhawan departed for 68, it did not hamper Rohit’s run rate. He kept punishing the Lankan bowlers, and sent their deliveries to all parts of the park.
Once he was past his century, the man’s swag was unparalleled. He scored his next 100 runs in 36 deliveries, as he became the only cricketer to pile up three double tons in ODIs. By staying unbeaten on 208, he also became the second captain after Sehwag to score a double century in ODIs.
In “Breakfast With Champions”, an online interview series with Gaurav Kapur, Rohit had said that he aimed to score a triple ton in ODIs some day. If he keeps going on in the manner in which he is playing, that joyous day may not be very far away for Indian cricket fans.