Along with winter, comes the magnificent form of Rohit Sharma. All of his three double hundreds in ODI cricket have come in the month of Nov-Dec, including his latest which he scored against Sri Lanka at Mohali. His last two double hundreds came against Australia and Sri Lanka in November 2013 and November 2014 respectively.
This Indian opener showed his class and temperament by remaining not out throughout his innings where he scored 208 in just 153 balls. By playing a captain’s knock in the absence of Virat Kohli who took leave for his wedding, Rohit Sharma showed that captaincy raises his standard of the game. This has been evident with the fact that he became a much-improved player in IPL too when he was given the charge to captain Mumbai Indians. Under his captaincy, Mumbai Indians won three IPL titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
So, it is clear that Rohit Sharma enjoys leading a side. As an international cricketer, he has completed a decade in the game. His talent was first seen in the first T20 World Cup in South Africa where he showed much promise as a young batsman who could take the burden of the Indian batting line up in the years to come.
Well, there has been no doubt about his immense contribution as a player in the limited forms of cricket, including both T20s and ODIs where he has scored heavily. The only thing which one would expect from him is a better test record after all these years. As of now, Rohit has played 23 test matches in which he has scored over 1400 runs with an average of 42.45. For an average cricketer, these numbers would look fine but for a player like Rohit Sharma, these numbers don’t do justice to his talent.
This is why he has not been able to cement his place in the test side which is currently the number one side in the world. Rohit Sharma has been given many chances in the test side year after year. As an opener and in the middle order as well. Earlier, he disappointed with his performance but presently his performance in the longer format has also improved. This is a good sign for both him and Indian cricket.
With the big tours of South Africa, England and Australia lined up next year, if Rohit Sharma could perform in those conditions, there is no doubt he could become a much better test player as well.
Coming back to the present, Rohit Sharma’s innings was a treat to watch for all cricket fans. His ability to strike the ball and clear the boundary has a soothing effect on the spectators and the rest of the team. When he is in form, he makes batting look so easy, almost like a cake walk.
In his knock of 208, he hit 12 sixes and 13 boundaries which means his 124 runs out of 208 came out without having to run between the wickets. In fact, he reached 100 to 200 in just 36 balls! Such was the ferocity of his attack that the Sri Lankan bowling attack was torn apart into pieces. He targeted the Sri Lankan bowler Suranga Lakmal who in the 1st ODI at Dharmshala bowled his career best figures by giving just 13 runs and taking four wickets in his 10 overs, which he bowled back to back without being removed from the attack.
In the 44th over of Indian innings, he hit four back to back sixes against Lakmal and 26 runs were made in that over. One has to also appreciate the context in which Rohit played his innings. This was the do or die match for India because the last match was a humiliating defeat for India. If India would have lost the 3rd ODI, Sri Lanka would have created history by winning an ODI series in India which they haven’t done so far. Also, questions would have been raised on his ability as a captain in the absence of Virat Kohli.
All this have been put to rest beautifully by Rohit Sharma. He has raised the standard of batting itself in ODI cricket. One could argue that it has come against a weaker side but on any day a double century in an ODI is no joke and this man has scored three double tons. Rohit Sharma’s name has gone in the history books with this brilliant performance and in time to come, cricket fans expect him to score more double tons.
As a batsman, Rohit Sharma doesn’t start hitting the ball with the word go. He takes some time to settle and once he does get settled, he puts a prize on his wicket. With the much-awaited tour of South Africa next month, cricket fans expect him to score heavily there. All his double tons have come in batting friendly conditions in India, his test of character would be in the pitches of South Africa and England next year where the ball moves, swings and bounces, often unsettling the batsman.
If Rohit Sharma improves his form in the foreign soil, his stature as a batsman will increase manifold. This will help the Indian team very much in the times to come.