Rohit "The Phoenix" Sharma's second life

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 14, 2014 14:49 hrs

One can't think of a more remarkable comeback than that of Rohit Sharma. Every cricketer has his fair share of ups and downs, but in the case of Rohit, it has been practically down for six years and then up for the last couple of years.

It has been a career of absolutely stark extremes. His career can easily be divided into two parts: 2007-12 and 2013-14.

Till 2012, Rohit played a whopping 86 ODI matches at a mediocre average of 30. To make things worse, he only had one century against a top-8 nation. His last six innings in 2012 read 5, 0, 0, 4, 4, 4. Dozens of cricketers have hit more runs in an over that Rohit's last six innings put together.

There is no doubt about it. He did not deserve a place in the team in the light of the above.

His international T20 record was also just about OK, nothing to brag about. This despite him being part of the squad that won the T20 World Cup in 2007. In IPL too, he had a lacklustre career and Deccan Chargers let go of him in 2010.

And of course a much coveted Test debut totally eluded him.

By the end of 2012 had Rohit retired, then no one would have batted an eyelid and he would have joined the league of talented cricketers who never came good. Even someone like Vinod Kambli was much more successful at the very beginning of his career.

For six years he was the butt of jokes and Internet memes and trended on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. From nicknames like Nohit Sharma to being called the ambassador of 2-minute noodles, Rohit had seen it all.

Then on January 1, 2013, Lady Luck decided to wish Rohit a very very happy new year. He scored an 83 against England in his first ODI of the year to return to form.

But it really started with captain MS Dhoni (who must be having the last laugh for pushing him so hard for years) decided to make Rohit a permanent opener in one-dayers and the rest is history. India won their first ICC Champions Trophy outright. Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan became a star opening pair.

The action then shifted to IPL and Rohit Sharma proved to be a lucky captain for Mumbai Indians when he won both the IPL and Champions League back-to-back! That's something that even the legendary Sachin Tendulkar couldn't do for his IPL team. As a batsman too, Rohit scored a lot of runs in that IPL season.

Then Rohit did the unthinkable. He scored an ODI double hundred and joined the ranks of Sachin and Virender Sehwag. In one shot he had catapulted himself into the big league. An inevitable Test debut followed and Rohit arrived with a bang making a blistering 177 on arrival.

While he was in and out of the team due to injury, he was not disheartened as he had permanently established himself in Team India and is just 27. He could well play for 10 more years and make total amends for his first six years.

Returning after a 10-month injury layoff, Rohit's world-record 264 at Eden Gardens in the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka helped him surpass even the lofty heights that he had scaled in the last two-odd years. 264 runs in a single ODI match and he is clear of Sehwag's 219 by 45 runs!

He has already become a legend. He owns everything that says "ODI individual batting performance".

Highest score: 264 

Most sixes: 16 

Most fours: 33 

Most balls played in a 50-over game: 173 

Most number of fours and sixes: 42

Most runs from fours and sixes: 186

Highest percentage of team score: 65% 

The only two-time double centurion.

Rohit now claims ownership of it all via his 209 and 264!

Since 2013, Rohit's ODI batting average is 53.5, his Test average is 48.9 and his international T20 average is 34.7. He's like a brand new player.

(For the record, Rohit has an IPL bowling hat-trick too)

Rohit's nickname should now be "The Phoenix", because he has risen from the ashes of 2007-12 in great style! How high he will soar from now on is anybody's guess.

A third ODI 200? You definitely can't rule that out!

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs here