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Rohit And His World Cup Hundreds – A Thing Of Beauty, A Touch Of Class

July 3, 2019

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That Rohit Sharma oozes batting talent is no longer a secret. He has got malleable wrists, knack to find the gaps, an extra half a second when he plays his shots and an outrageously special ability to hit sixes at will. He can play all the shots that are in the cricketing manual and a few more that not many others can, because some of the shots in cricket are made for certain players only. Take the Kumar Sangakkara cover drive for example – knee bent to perfection, the bat swing, the stamp of authority and all the elegance in the world. Rohit’s pull for that matter – the panache, the ease, the timing and the follow-through – all in abundance.¬†Tuesday’s much anticipated clash saw both Rohit and Sangakkara being matched in one respect as the former continued his purple patch to equal the latter’s world record of 4 centuries in a single edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Rohit was a sight to behold on Tuesday against India’s noisy neighbours. Once again the coin fell in India’s favour and that automatically shifted the pressure to the Bangladeshi camp. Amidst all the talks of an unlikely revenge by the men in green, Hitman had an ice cool presence calming any bout of jitters that the Indian fans might be having. He made a resounding start to his innings by pulling the very second ball he faced for a six. Things however could have been different for the Tigers if Tamim Iqbal fielding at deep square leg had not made a mess of a simple chance presented by the Indian opener batting on 9. A dolly was dropped, a blunder was committed and Bangladesh went on to pay a huge price for the reprieve. Fortune favours the brave and hence similar to the games against South Africa, Pakistan and England here also Rohit got away with his early mistake. Grasping onto his lifelines and taking the trajectory of his innings to an upward climb continues to remain the striking feature of his batting in this tournament – something which needs to be applauded heavily, which has made a huge difference and which has also stormed India into their third straight world cup semifinal in 8 years with a game to spare.

Rohit’s 4 hundreds have come at different paces. It was only during the first of these 4 did Shikhar Dhawan open with him. Since then it was KL Rahul, who rides a high percentage of false shots towards the start while opening the innings. India had lost one of their mainstays from their prolific top 3 setup. Consequently Sharma had lost his regular opening partner but not his composure. Dhawan’s absence meant Rohit now had to be the aggressor with an additional responsibility. And what responsibility did to his game while being in charge of Mumbai Indians is exactly what he has replicated here. In India’s opening fixture against South Africa where he saw Dhawan and Kohli fall but he stood his crease with a lot patience and plenty of determination. He saw off the daunting spell of Rabada and Morris before eventually taking control of the things at the middle. Even in the pressure game against Pakistan Rahul’s struggle to find his touch didn’t have any adverse effect on Rohit, who not only gave his partner the time to settle his nerves but also scored runs at a whopping pace from the other end. Indian Vice Captain’s innings against England however looked a rather laboured knock till its midway where the focus initially was on seeing out the early spell of Jofra Archer who was firing cannons from one end and Woakes who was probing surgically from the other. Once again against all the odds Rohit hung around a notched up a hundred that might not have won India the game but made sure that their net run rate don’t fall apart. Finally against Bangladesh he came all guns blazing right from the start and kept hitting the opponent bowlers all over the place. But what was common to all these innings is that he mixed caution with aggression. He didn’t shy away from playing the streaky shots but he restrained himself from going after everything against someone who was in the middle of a good spell.

Rohit’s approach to every game might have been based on different conditions but his batting template never really looked short of clarity. When the situation asked for patience and hard work he showed it more than anyone else, when the opponents bolwed loose lengths he punished them, when the spinners were brought into the attack he brought late cuts and sweeps to his game, when there was anything too short, too wide or too straight he didn’t hesitate to launch them into the orbit and finally when there was the opportunity to show rampage he seamlessly went into an overdrive. He has showcased the greatest hunger on the biggest cricketing stage and has stood head and shoulders above anyone else in the competition. This is the same hunger that keeps him kicking farther and farther in order to turn his hundreds into daddy hundreds and hence it should not dry up so easily. However the only thing he would regret this time around is that none of his centuries have gone past the score of 150 as yet, something that he doesn’t like to miss out once he is set. Apart from that he has failed only twice with one of the decisions was probably a bit harsh on him but he reserved his best for the encounters that mattered more. Effectively he has made the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup his favourite theatre and as we approach the business end of the tournament Team India would love to see his show go on. Because when it goes on there are few sights in the world cricket that are more beautiful than the Rohit-Sharma-show which usually leaves the onlookers in awe. The way he’s batting at the moment it’s all his world now where the other batsmen are more than comfortable living. Rohit being a monster of white ball cricket was nothing new but I think this tournament has marked the making of a player who belongs to a different level, an ever so consistent Rohit Sharma, a deadlier Rohit Sharma and a run-machine.

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